'Without a word, you know who the leader is': Rahul Dravid warned on handling the Hardik Pandya-Rohit Sharma situation

Speculation was rife during Mumbai Indians' horrendous show in IPL 2024 that all is not well between the captain Hardik Pandya and its predecessor Rohit Sharma. Reports even stated that this led to a division within the MI team, with the team finishing bottom of the table for the second time in three seasons. With Hardik and Rohit now in the Indian camp as vice-captain and captain in the T20 World Cup tournament, head coach Rahul Dravid will have a tough task ahead to bring the two together and avoid an MI type situation in the Indian dressing room.

India's Hardik Pandya, right, delivers the ball to captain Rohit Sharma during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup match against Bangladesh in Pune (AP)

However, like former Indian cricketer Irfan PathanAustralian legend Matthew Hayden felt that Dravid did not need to broach the subject as the focus has now shifted from the IPL to the World Cup, where India will aim to end their long drought of ICC trophies and will need its two best and most experienced players to unite for the cause.

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“Without a word, you know who the leader is. Nothing needs to be said. You look at each other, you understand what needs to happen and you go about it. It's music to my ears what Irfan just said say, about what's going on that you're not going to talk about it, don't even talk about it,” Hayden told ESPNCricinfo.

Pathan, who also participated in the discussion, felt that Dravid should not even touch on the subject of IPL and instead focus on creating a sense of confidence in Hardik about his importance in the Indian set-up.

“I won’t even discuss that. Whatever happened, happened. I will just say that here is what I expect from you: I want you to win matches for India. This is the road map, and you are an important part of the team and a match winner. Being a versatile player, I will say he will play a crucial role. How many fast bowlers have we taken? Only three specialist bowlers, besides Hardik and Shivam Dube. So when the time comes, these 3-4 overs will become very crucial. Don't forget that it will allow us to play an extra West Indies roulette when we play day games. So that's where he comes in, he needs to feel good and believe that he can make a contribution and so the conversation about IPL shouldn't even happen once,” said the former T20 World Cup winner.

Both Hardik and Rohit were in the lineup for India on Saturday in the T20 World Cup warm-up match against Bangladesh in New York, where the all-rounder put behind a poor IPL show to score a fiery 40 of 23 balls while the Men in Blue won by 60 points.

India will begin their World Cup campaign on June 5 against Ireland at the same venue.

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