The unrivalled Criticism surrounding Hardik Pandya

Since IPL 2024 got underway, Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya has faced unprecedented booing from fans.

The unrivalled Criticism surrounding Hardik Pandya f

"Fan wars should never take such an ugly route."

Since IPL 2024 began, Hardik Pandya has faced unprecedented booing from fans across India.

The Mumbai Indians captain has faced booing crowds during the team’s games in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and even at home games.

Traded from Gujarat Titans, Pandya replaced Rohit Sharma at the Mumbai Indians for the 2024 IPL.

He had previously been part of four IPL triumphs under Sharma’s leadership at Mumbai Indians, spending his first seven IPL seasons there until 2021.

Hardik Pandya’s captaincy came as a surprise, following the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, and Rohit Sharma.

However, Mumbai fans were angry at the move.

Fans believe Sharma did not give up captaincy and was actually replaced. They are letting Pandya know how they feel.

Booing Instances

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Hardik Pandya encountered a hostile reception from fans in Ahmedabad when facing Gujarat Titans, whom he led to the 2022 IPL title.

The booing continued when Mumbai faced Sunrisers Hyderabad.

At Mumbai’s home game against Rajasthan Royals on April 1, 2024, Pandya faced jeers from fans during the coin toss.

This prompted commentator Sanjay Manjrekar to request crowds to “behave”.

But that did not quite calm the crowd down.

Boos returned when Pandya could not make a difficult catch and the only time jeering turned to applause when he hit a few boundaries.

Mumbai ended up losing the match and it meant the side’s 2024 IPL campaign has begun with three losses.

Rajasthan Royals player Ravichandran Ashwin criticised crowds for their behaviour and blamed India’s “fan wars” for the booing Pandya has been subjected to.

On his YouTube channel, Ashwin said:

“People should remember which country these players represent. It’s our country. Fan wars should never take such an ugly route.”

Ashwin cited past instances where the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid played under each other’s captaincies without any significant fan backlash.

He continued: “Sourav Ganguly played under Sachin Tendulkar and vice versa.

“These two have both played under Rahul Dravid. These three have played under Anil Kumble and all of them have played under MS Dhoni.

“When they were under Dhoni, these players were cricket jambhavans (giants). Dhoni too played under Virat Kohli.”

Ashwin also questioned whether “fan wars” happen in other cricket-playing nations.

“Have you seen, for instance, Joe Root and Zak Crawley fans have a fight? Or Joe Root and Jos Buttler fans fight? It’s crazy.

“Do you see Steven Smith fans fighting with Pat Cummins fans in Australia?”

Reaction to the Booing

The unrivalled Criticism surrounding Hardik Pandya

On social media, fans have stated that it is their freedom of expression, saying cricketers are overly sensitive.

Netizens have argued that if players embrace admiration, they must also endure criticism.

On the other hand, sports writer Sharda Urga said the booing of Hardik Pandya is unprecedented.

She said: “You’ve had players booed by the crowds at various stands, but in this sustained manner, from one ground to another ground and to a third ground which is his home ground.

“It’s quite unusual.

“I think it’s a lot generated by social media. It’s almost like a trend that carries on at every Mumbai Indians game.”

Many feel Mumbai Indians and Hardik Pandya worsened the situation by offering no clarity when asked about the change in captaincy.

During a pre-season press conference, Pandya was probed about a possible “captaincy clause” in his contract after moving from Gujarat to Mumbai.

He remained silent on the matter, forcing the moderator to move on to the next question.

In another instance, when reporters asked head coach Mark Boucher about the side’s decision to replace Sharma with Pandya as captain for the 2024 IPL season, Boucher also chose to stay silent.

What have other Cricketers said about the Booing?

Rajasthan Royals’ Trent Boult has expressed his support for Hardik Pandya and urged him to “block out white noise”.

He told the media: “It is something you cannot control, as professional sportspeople it is what you are exposed to in a way.

“You have to block out the white noise and focus on the job, (but) it is easier said than done.”

Ex-Australia captain Michael Clarke has also offered his support for Pandya, calling the Indian cricketer a confident person.

He also suggested that he can win over fans with good team results.

On ESPN’s Around the Wicket, Clarke said:

“It doesn’t help when your team is not performing. I spoke to Hardik Pandya when I got over here and he seems like he is going fine.

“He’s a really confident sort of a person.

“He won’t allow this to get to him but he does need to get this team winning games of cricket. Mumbai is such a good team and there’s always high expectations.

“The fans want them at the top of the tree, but at the moment they are at the bottom.”

Former England cricketer Stuart Broad also highlighted Mumbai Indians’ struggles at the 2024 IPL.

He also believes the only way the incessant booing of Hardik Pandya will stop is by Mumbai Indians winning matches.

Broad said: “As a player it doesn’t bother you at all, to be honest. It’s part and parcel of international and top-flight sport.

“You don’t necessarily get that sort of environment and hostile feeling on your home ground. But I don’t think the atmosphere can affect you as a proven performer.

“You still need to go out and deliver your skill.

“Ultimately, Mumbai Indians is a winning franchise. It has got a winning mentality, and they’re not winning.

“That’s the most difficult thing they’re coping with at the moment. What they need to do is just get back on winning ways.”

Only time will tell whether the fans’ reception towards Hardik Pandya will change and accept him.

However, it’s undeniable that should Pandya exhibit stellar performances and lead the Mumbai Indians to victories, the current boos directed towards him are bound to make way for thunderous applause.

This transformation would signify not just a shift in sentiment but also a testament to the enduring power of athletic prowess in winning over hearts and minds.



Dhiren is a News & Content Editor who loves all things football. He also has a passion for gaming and watching films. His motto is to "Live life one day at a time".



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