Felt sorry for Hardik, never nice to go through something like that: Boucher on boos

12:40 PM May 18, 2024 | PTI |

Mumbai, Mumbai Indians coach Mark Boucher really felt bad watching skipper Hardik Pandya face hostile reactions and boos from the fans throughout the disastrous IPL campaign and admitted that it did affect the star all-rounder, something that the management would need to address in coming days.


Pandya, after two successful seasons as Gujarat Titans skipper was brought back as captain of Mumbai Indians, removing five-time champion skipper Rohit Sharma, a decision that didn’t sit well with legion of fans.

“It wasn’t great hearing all the boos. I felt sorry for Hardik as well. It’s never nice to have to go through something like that,” Boucher said after MI lost their last league game to Lucknow Super Giants by 18 runs.

“I do think that there are certain things that did affect individuals, which ultimately did affect the team,” Boucher said after MI finished last for the second time in three years. Boucher felt the underwhelming performances and outside pressure did cloud his judgement.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on around him that, maybe, clouded his thoughts every now and again, which is tough for him as a leader as well. He certainly had a lot of support within our dressing room as well and guys trying to help him out as well. But it’s a tough thing to go through as a player,” he said.


Boucher said if any off-field issues are hampering the team, they require attention from management. “Those are the sort of things that, yes, we do need to sit down and address and hopefully make some good calls going forward, to address the off-field stuff that we can get it right on the field,” he added. “Ultimately, this is a professional unit and players and staff and everyone alike gets judged about the performance that they put on the field. If there’s stuff that’s happening off the field which is hampering that, then we need to address it,” he said.

Boucher backed Pandya to continue as MI skipper even though he admitted a thorough review of the team’s abysmal performance would be assessed but no emotional decisions must be taken.

“I think so. As I said, we haven’t had discussions. Everything’s been about the cricket stuff at the moment. Going forward, I’m sure that he is the guy that the franchise would like to take forward. We’ll wait and see. We’ll have these conversations at a later stage,” he said.

When asked if Boucher felt Mumbai Indians franchise should have handled the leadership change any differently, the South African agreed.

“To be honest, I haven’t really chatted to a lot of team management about that decision,” Boucher replied when asked if the captaincy change could have been handed differently.

“Now is not probably the right time. Everyone is very disappointed and emotional, so no good decision will get made in the nearest time, which is now in a week’s time.”

“We need to evaluate exactly what’s going on, things that we need improvement on, whether it be on the field or off the field stuff. We’ve got some great heads within the management team as well,” Boucher said.

“We’ll sit down and we’ll find a way on how to make it better, ultimately, for the players to come out and produce the sort of cricket that I think we know that these players can produce, which was under par this season,” the head coach added.

Boucher said Pandya did find form as a bowler but a lot was left to be desired as a batter.

“If he was here , he’d also disappointed in his performance. From a captain perspective, I thought he had some good games,” he said.

Boucher said Pandya would emerge as a stronger leader from this experience. Pandya was booed twice on Friday once he walked out to bat and once after he was dismissed.

“A lot of the stuff that he’s going through is, personally, maybe a little uncalled for. It’ll certainly be a learning curve for Hardik as his growth in leadership.

“While times are tough now, a couple of things will pass and it’ll make him a tougher leader and it’ll certainly grow him in the role as well,” he said.

Boucher said one of the reasons why Pandya failed as a batter was also due to the change in role from Gujarat Titans to Mumbai Indians. Pandya was 10th among MI batters with a mere 216 runs from 14 matches at an average of 18 with no fifties. Boucher felt that Pandya has only been effective as finisher when someone else has fired for MI at the other end and mostly during successful years, it was Kieron Pollard.

“When Hardik was playing for Mumbai Indians, he was a finisher. He was playing in that sort of role with Polly . He then went to Titans and he was batting in a completely different scenario,” Boucher said.

“He was batting up front. There were slight technical adjustments that he had to make to his game in order to face a newer ball and the different lengths when you’re facing a new ball as well.

“He made himself aware of that as well. Throughout the whole season, it was a work in progress trying to get him back to the new role that he was playing now, more as a finisher, batting in the back end of innings as well,” Boucher said, adding that Pandya needed to rediscover his hitting power.

The South African admitted even his role as head coach would be under scrutiny among many other issues that MI need to address.

“I’m not too sure where I’m going, to be honest with you. As I said, it’s quite early days at the moment. A lot of people are emotional. There’s probably going to be discussions about all of us,” he said.


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