Exclusive – ‘Thinker of the game’: Mitchell McClenaghan feels Hardik Pandya has grown up as a leader | Cricket News

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SURAT: The success of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has not only helped the country produce a plethora of young talents but also led to the emergence of some noteworthy cricketing minds deemed capable of shouldering the leadership responsibilities for India in both shorter and longer formats of the game going forward.
Hardik Pandya, who recently rejoined Mumbai Indians (MI) and has a successful captaincy record with Gujarat Titans, is being touted as a possible successor at the Mumbai-based IPL team in the post-Rohit Sharma era.

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(ANI Photo)
On the other hand, MI also boast other captaincy contenders, including Jasprit Bumrah and Suryakumar Yadav. While the former led a young Indian contingent against Ireland in his comeback series last August, the latter bagged a 4-1 series victory for India against Australia after the World Cup setback.
Speaking to TimesofIndia.com on the sidelines of Legends League Cricket (LLC) T20, former Mumbai Indians pacer Mitchell McClenaghan, who has shared dressing rooms with all three captain candidates, emphasized Hardik Pandya’s leadership acumen, acknowledging that being close to Kieron Pollard has helped the all-rounder grow as a leader.

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“He (Pandya) is a thinker of the game. I haven’t obviously been under him as a player, but any conversation I have had with him in the past, he’s doing the right talk. He’s a winner, which is also what you need, but he’s also got the ability to understand that sometimes players make mistakes and to not get too upset about that. And he has probably grown up in the role as skipper, you probably would have seen some of those traits,” McClenaghan said.
“But also, he is very close to Kieron Pollard, who’s vastly experienced in T20 cricket and world cricket. He treats people like family, and they have strong cricket conversations. So he’s got the right people to learn from around him,” added the four-time IPL winner with Mumbai Indians.
When questioned about Hardik’s potential as a long-term captain for India, McClenaghan expressed confidence in the all-rounder’s leadership abilities in the shorter format.

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“Yeah, definitely in the shorter format. I think the most important thing for India at the moment is that guys like him and Bumrah stay in the park,” the former Kiwi fast bowler told TimesofIndia.com.
McClenaghan further noted that Bumrah and Suryakumar could also be viable options for the captain’s role in the Indian team, humorously suggesting that there might be something special about playing for MI.
“This is a period where they’re still worrying about the captaincy and all that kind of stuff. But if he (Pandya) is the skipper, he would do really well, and (it is) the same with Jasprit, he’s got a good cricketing brain. And we’ve seen Surya as well, he won 4-1 against Australia, so there must be something about playing for Mumbai, eh?,” he concluded.



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