India all-rounder Hardik Pandya's leadership ability has been a stunning revelation in his white-ball career. Ever since impressing experts and then the India selectors after guiding Gujarat Titans to an IPL trophy haul in their debut season in 2022, Hardik has been touted to take over the reigns from Rohit Sharma post the ODI World Cup. He was thereafter elevated to the role of a T20I skipper in contests Rohit was rested and made a return back to the ODI set-up later where he was made the vice-captain. However, a humiliating T20I series loss in West Indies earlier this month under his captaincy, where he was criticised for his poor on-field calls, Hardik's major role for the ODI World Cup hangs in jeopardy with BCCI revealing his true competitor for the job.
In January this year, Hardik was made the deputy to Rohit in the ODI set-up. He held the job in the series against New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Australia and then in the tour of West Indies, where he even led the side in the final match after the regular skipper had benched himself with India in experimental mode for the World Cup.
And while India bounced back from a scare in the ODIs against West Indies to win it 2-1 earlier this month, the Men in Blue suffered their first ever bilateral series loss to the Caribbean side in 17 years, going 2-3 down in a five-match series. Hardik was later savaged by cricket experts for some of the bizarre on-field calls and post-match remarks during the contest.
While few later backed Hardik to bounce back from the low with the Asia Cup and ODI World Cup around the corner where he will play a crucial role as a vice-captain to Rohit, a PTI report disclosed that the all-rounder may not be certain for his leadership role in the 50-over event.
Speaking to PTI on conditions of anonymity, a BCCI source revealed the true reason behind Jasprit Bumrah being assigned the captaincy role in the Ireland T20I series, explaining that the star fast bowler is slated to be in line to become Rohit's deputy in the Asia Cup as well as World Cup.
"Bumrah could give Hardik a tough competition as far as ODI vice-captaincy is concerned. Let's not forget in terms of leadership seniority, Bumrah became India captain before Hardik (vs England in Test match at Oval). He also was vice-captain of ODI side during tour of South Africa (early 2022). So he is also in line," he said.
Both Bumrah and Hardik will only know their fate on Monday morning when the Ajit Agarkar-led selection committee will reveal India's Asia Cup squad, which will included a provisional side for the World Cup as well.