The Hitman Is Hit Out

The Hitman Is Hit Out

Dr. Sandeep GoyalUpdated: Monday, December 18, 2023, 11:50 AM IST
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Dr Sandeep Goyal Managing Director, Rediffusion Author - Sellebrities |

The old order changeth, yielding place to new,

And God fulfils Himself in many ways,

Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.

Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?

Lord Alfred Tennyson could not have been more eloquent in his ballad, Morte d’Arthur, in expressing what has happened to Hitman Rohit Sharma who has been shorn of the Mumbai Indians captaincy, with Hardik Pandya coming in as the new skipper. Rohit Sharma has guided Mumbai Indians to five IPL trophies since ascending the captaincy throne in 2013. All five Mumbai Indians’ title triumphs have come under Rohit’s watch in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020. In 158 matches as captain, Rohit won 87 and lost 67 at Mumbai Indians.

Leading India in the absence of Rohit following his IPL success with Gujarat Titans, Pandya is tipped by cricket pundits to succeed the veteran opener as the next white-ball captain of the national team. Pandya has been India's T20I captain in 13 of its last 25 games. Mumbai Indians perhaps took their cue from this visible national transition and anointed Pandya. 

Has the same ignominy befallen an Indian captain before? Of being sacked from the home team because of losses at the national level? Well, yes. The most profound example is perhaps that of Ajit Wadekar, the captain of the famous twin-series wins in West Indies and England in 1971. But then India had a disastrous England tour in 1974. India lost 0-3 in the Test matches. Wadekar was sacked as India captain but the bigger humiliation was that the selectors dropped him from the West Zone and Mumbai teams too. Rohit Sharma’s punishment for the loss in the 2023 ODI World Cup finals may not have been that extreme but already his national mantle as captain is being chipped away at by Surya Kumar Yadav, KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya. And the Mumbai crown is gone. 

In T20s, the end of his innings seems near anyway. Rohit scored only 332 runs in 16 games in IPL 2023. The former Mumbai Indians captain finished far behind teammates Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Cameron Green, and Tilak Verma in the MI batting charts. Though to be fair to him, Rohit has amassed 5879 runs in 222 IPL innings at a strike rate of 129.89 with 40 half-centuries and one century in 15 years of IPL. He is the second highest run-scorer in the tournament ahead of Shikhar Dhawan (5746) and a notch behind Virat Kohli (6411). But recent stats are not as encouraging. 

I don’t think the captaincy change is going to impact Mumbai Indians as a brand. But with this relegation, what happens to Brand Rohit? 

Rohit is/was the brand ambassador of Max Life Insurance, Hublot, Adidas, Sharp, Crickingdom, Trusox, New Era, Aristocrat, Rasna, Ceat, Oakley, Massimo, Conekt, La Liga, IIFL, Vega, Financepeer, Nissan, GoIbibo, Birla Sunlife, Walkaroo, Glenmark, Infinity Learn, Oppo, Tagg, Videocon, Bournvita, Dr. Trust, Dream 11, Noise, Restless, Chandon, Relispray, Proatar, Highlander, Nasivion, Lay’s, Fancraze … now that is a very long and impressive list. Going forward, however, if he relinquishes the India captaincy too, his demand as a celebrity endorser will also plummet. It is actually a vicious cycle – you perform badly with the bat, your standing as a player recedes; it impacts your standing as captain; if you are no longer captain then brands look at who the new captain is… the Mumbai captaincy could trigger the fall of the dominos for Rohit. 

Unfortunately, such is life. Rohit Sharma is into fade-out. I am sure there are still a few cameos left to come – Virat Kohli in 2023 has proved that he still has a few thousand runs to score yet. Rohit at 36 too will have to just concentrate on his cricket if he has to play for another two to three years. Forget captaincy, forget commercials – just get centuries. 

(Dr. Sandeep Goyal is Chairman of Rediffusion and Chief Mentor of the

Indian Institute of Human Brands (IIHB).)

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