Rohit Sharma faced a massive backlash from Hardik Pandya fans on social media after Jay Shah confirmed the former as Team India's skipper for the T20 World Cup in the West Indies and USA later this year.

While some supporters of Hardik Pandya argued that Rohit Sharma was a “liability” in India's T20 set-up, others reckoned that the 36-year-old wasn't delivering in clutch moments.

“In 2023 (final) at Ahmedabad, even though we did not win the World Cup after 10 straight wins, we won hearts. I want to promise you that in 2024 (T20 World Cup) in Barbados (venue for the final), under Rohit Sharma's captaincy, ham Bharat ka jhanda gaadenge (we will hoist the Indian flag),” Jay Shah said in Rajkot on Wednesday.

Explaining the reason behind the move, Jay Shah, the powerful secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), stated that Hardik Pandya was still recovering from the ankle injury he sustained during last year's ODI World Cup. At this stage, the board doesn't want to put undue pressure on him and instead allow Hardik Pandya to get back into the groove slowly but steadily.

“Rohit was captaining (in the past in other formats) and he came back for the Afghanistan series, which means we were going to let him continue forward,” Jay Shah added.

“If Hardik was injured in the World Cup, who else can we give the captaincy?” asked the BCCI administrator.

“In the third T20I against Afghanistan, India were 22/4 and the way he (Rohit Sharma) took the team to 212/4, we can't question much about him, right?” Jay Shah continued.

“He (Rohit) has the ability, as I said, we won 10 games in the ODI World Cup. We didn't win the final, but it's part and parcel of the game. Whoever plays better, wins,” he expressed.

Jay Shah's announcement regarding Rohit Sharma leading Team India in the T20 World Cup in the West Indies and USA comes only days after an ugly controversy over the Nagpur-born cricketer's sacking as Mumbai Indians captain.

It is worth noting that Rohit Sharma was removed as skipper of the Mumbai Indians in December 2023 after leading the franchise to five IPL titles during his decade-long stint as captain from 2013 to 2023.

This came only a month after Rohit Sharma failed to lead the Indian Cricket Team to World Cup glory, having lost the final of the premier ODI competition to Australia at home in Ahmedabad in November.

While the move resulted in a massive drop in Mumbai Indians' social media base and brutal trolling of their newly appointed captain, Hardik Pandya, the Ambanis-owned team stuck to their decision.

For the unversed, Hardik Pandya played for Mumbai Indians for seven consecutive seasons starting in 2015 before parting ways to join Gujarat Titans during the 2022 season.

During his seven-year sojourn with Mumbai Indians, the Team India all-rounder remained a vital cog in the then Rohit Sharma-led team's title-winning runs in 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2020.

Hardik Pandya's two-year term as the leader of the Gujarat Titans (GT) was highly successful as the Gujarat-born cricketer guided them to the IPL title in their maiden season in 2022.

During IPL 2023, Gujarat Titans topped the points table during the group stage before making it to the final.

However, the Ahmedabad-based franchise failed to lift their second successive IPL trophy after losing to the charismatic MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the title clash.

In a recent statement, Mumbai Indians coach Mark Boucher revealed the reasons behind Rohit Sharma's sacking as the franchise's skipper and Hardik Pandya's appointment in his place.

“I think it was purely a cricketing decision. We saw the window period to get Hardik back as a player. For me it's a transition phase. A lot of people don't understand in India, people get quite emotional, but you know you take the emotions away from it. I think it's just more of a cricketing decision that was made and I do think it is going to bring the best out of Rohit as a person as a player. Just let him go out and enjoy and score some good runs,” the Mumbai Indians coach said on the Smash Sports podcast.

“He is still going to captain India so that hype's going be there but when he steps into the IPL maybe just taking that extra bit of pressure off him as a captain and maybe we get the best out of Rohit Sharma. We want to see him playing with a smile on his face,” the retired South Africa wicketkeeper-batter summed up.