Mitchell McClenaghan celebrates with his teammates in this file photo
Stepping out of his comfort space, Rohit Sharma walked the talk of India wanting to play aggressive cricket throughout the 2023 ODI World Cup. Playing to his ‘Hitman’ moniker, Rohit’s plan stayed simple – set the perfect platform for the middle order to take over with some swashbuckling strokes which would in turn dampen the confidence of the opposition bowling attack early on as well, allowing the remaining batters to flourish. The game plan played a pivotal role in India’s unbeaten run to the final and looked almost perfect in the final as well before India faltered and crumbled against Australia.
Irrespective of the results, Rohit was hailed for his captaincy and batting by veteran cricketers, including his former Mumbai Indians teammate Mitchell McClenaghan. Responding to a query from Hindustan Times on the sidelines of the Dehradun leg of the ongoing 2023 Legends League Cricket, the ex-New Zealand player, who played six seasons under Rohit’s captaincy in IPL between 2015 and 2020, opened up on the immense effort that the India star puts in major tournaments and hence felt that he “deserved the World Cup”.
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He said: “I feel really bad for Rohit in particular because I know how much preparation he puts into tournaments, and I know this would have been a big trophy for him to tick off. So from that point of view, I do place my heart, I feel, for how he didn’t get the result that he would have wanted and what he probably deserved with how he has turned Indian cricket around in the last couple of years.”
‘Goal is to reunite with Mumbai Indians’
Roped in ahead of the 2015 season, McClenaghan played a pivotal role in three of Mumbai Indians’ titles during his six-year stint in IPL. He picked up 71 wickets in 56 appearances before being released after the 2020 season. After the announcement from MI, the left-arm fast bowler had thanked the franchise before adding, “It’s a see you later, not a goodbye”.
When asked by Hindustan Times whether the post, made in 2021, still holds relevance with McClenaghan looking for a mentorship role perhaps, the four-time IPL winner revealed that he has been taking coaching courses post his retirement and has the target of an MI reunion soon.
“It’s one of the common things get on Twitter, people asking when I’m coming back, but currently I am going through my coaching courses, trying to learn more about that side of the game because it’s a sport that I enjoy and a sport that I would like to be involved in going forward. So whether that goes locally back home or globally within the T20 circuit, and who knows? I mean, MI would be a goal of mine to reunite with that franchise, for sure,” he smiled.
A dream-come-true moment in LLC for Mitch
In the ongoing LLC, where he plays for Manipal Tigers, McClenaghan is also fulfilling his childhood dream of playing against South African legend Jacques Kallis.
“You have an incredible number of players who have just retired. So it is just an incredible concept of playing cricket post-retirement,” the Kiwi pacer said. “For me too, look, I got to play against Jacques Kallis, he is someone I admired while I was growing up. Unfortunately, careers never crossed over, so I didn’t get any opportunity to play against him. So I got to see some awesome shots from the bat of Kallis the other night.”
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