IPL: Indian cricket star Hardik Pandya’s unprecedented boos

  • By Saurabh Somani
  • Sports writer


Pandya (right) replaced Indian skipper Rohit Sharma at Mumbai Indians for IPL 2024

Over the past two weeks, an Indian cricket star has been heavily booed by fans in packed stadiums across the country.

Hardik Pandya, captain of the Mumbai Indians team in the Indian Premier League (IPL), the world’s richest cricket tournament, faced boos from crowds during the team’s matches in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and even at home, Mumbai.

Traded from his former team Gujarat Titans, Pandya replaced Indian all-format skipper Rohit Sharma at Mumbai Indians for IPL 2024, which began on March 23. The 30-year-old all-rounder had previously featured in four successful campaigns under Sharma’s leadership at Mumbai Indians, spending his first seven IPL seasons there until 2021.

For many, the departure from Mumbai came as a surprise. The franchise has a history of legendary captains. Pandya’s appointment marks Mumbai’s fifth captain since its inception in 2008, succeeding Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Rohit Sharma.

However, Mumbai fans did not take it lightly. They believe that Sharma – the most successful captain in the competition, alongside MS Dhoni – did not relinquish his captaincy and was moved. And they let Pandya know how they feel.

The Mumbai captain faced a hostile reception from fans last week in Ahmedabad against his former team, the Gujarat Titans, who he led to successive IPL finals, including the 2022 title. are continued as Mumbai took on Sunrisers Hyderabad in the southern city of Hyderabad.


A fan applauds the Gujarat Titans team during an IPL match last month

During Mumbai’s home match against Rajasthan Royals (RR) at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday evening, Pandya faced jeers from fans during the toss, prompting commentator Sanjay Manjrekar to ask the crowd to “stand down”. behave”.

This didn’t really appease the crowd, however. The boos returned when Pandya failed to hold on to a difficult catch and the only time the jeers turned to applause was when Pandya hit a few boundaries. It didn’t help that the Royals won the match, handing Mumbai a third consecutive defeat.

Ravichandran Ashwin, the spin maestro who plays for Rajasthan Royals, chastised the crowds for their behavior and blamed Indian “fan wars” for the boos Pandya received.

“People should remember what country these players represent. This is our country. Fan wars should never take such a horrible path,” he said on his YouTube channel.

Ashwin cited examples from the past where Indian cricket legends such as Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid played under each other’s captaincy without any significant fan reaction.

“Sourav Ganguly played under Sachin Tendulkar and vice versa. These two both played under Rahul Dravid. These three played under Anil Kumble and all of them played under MS Dhoni. When they were under Dhoni, these players were cricket. jambhavans (giants). Dhoni also played under Virat Kohli.


Mumbai suffered three consecutive defeats in the IPL this year under Pandya

Ashwin also asked if such ‘fan wars’ were happening in other cricket-playing countries.

“Have you seen, for example, Joe Root and Zak Crawley fans fighting? Or Joe Root and Jos Buttler fans fighting? It’s crazy. Do you see Steven Smith fans fighting with fans of Pat Cummins in Australia?

Rajasthan Royals pace bowler Trent Boult also supported Pandya, a former teammate, and asked him to “block out the white noise”.

“It’s something you can’t control, as a professional athlete, it’s what you’re exposed to in a way. You have to block out the white noise and focus on the work, (but) “It’s easier said than done,” Boult told the media.

On social media platforms such as Reddit and X, fans are asserting their freedom of speech, saying cricketers are too sensitive. They argue that while players embrace adoration, they must also endure criticism, including booing.

Sports writer Sharda Ugra said Pandya’s booing was quite unprecedented.


Rohit Sharma is the most successful captain in the IPL, alongside MS Dhoni

“There have been players booed by the crowd in different stands, but in such a sustained manner… from one pitch to another and up to a third pitch which is his home pitch… It’s quite unusual,” says Ugra, who has been writing about cricket since 1989.

“I think a lot of it is generated by social media. It’s almost like a trend that continues with every Mumbai Indians match,” she adds.

Many believe that Mumbai and Pandya exacerbated the situation by not offering any clarity when asked about the captaincy change.

At a pre-season press conference streamed live on YouTube, Pandya was asked about a potential ‘captain clause’ in his contract following his move from Gujarat to Mumbai. He maintained a stoic silence, leaving the moderator with no choice but to quickly move on to the next question.

Similarly, when reporters pressed head coach Mark Boucher to reason behind the franchise’s decision to appoint Pandya as captain rather than Sharma this season, Boucher also opted for silence.

Only time will tell if fans will warm up to Pandya and accept him fully. Undoubtedly, if he starts performing well and guides his team to victory, the jeers will probably give way to applause.

Read more stories from BBC India:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *