Fans haven’t been kind to Mumbai Indians (MI) captain Hardik Pandya in the ongoing season of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Hardik, who is making his captaincy debut for MI in IPL 2024, was booed by the crowd in the franchise’s first two matches so far. The 30-year-old received a hostile reception on his return to the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, with the Gujarat Titans fans booing him at the toss. MI have lost both their games so far, first against GT, and then SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH).

For the unversed, fans have not been happy with Hardik replacing Rohit as captain of MI, following his trade from GT ahead of the IPL 2024 players auction.

On Monday, MI will take on Rajasthan Royals in their first home game of the season and reports have suggested possible crowd trouble at the Wankhede Stadium.

Rumours have also been rampant that Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) have started planning steps against fans targetting Hardik.

However, MCA have denied the same, saying that they will be following BCCI’s guidelines on crowd behaviour.

“No instructions given for this specific game. There have been set guidelines issued by BCCI on spectators behaviour over the years, that is process that is followed,” an MCA statement read, as quoted by News 18.

Amid Hardik’s troubles, Ravinchandran Ashwin came out in vehement support of the MI captain.

Ashwin squarely blamed the prevailing atmosphere of “fan wars” and “cinema culture” for the hostile treatment of Pandya by the spectators and in social media spaces, which started after the all-rounder replaced Rohit Sharma as MI captain ahead of IPL 2024.

“Fan wars should never go this ugly a route. One should remember which country these players represent – our country. So, then what warrants a cricketer getting booed? “I don’t understand. If you don’t like a player and boo a player, why should a team come out to issue a clarification,” Ashwin said in his YouTube Channel while answering a question from one of the fans.

Ashwin also brought out examples from the past when legends like Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly played under MS Dhoni, a much younger cricketer then, setting aside their egos.

“Sourav Ganguly played under Sachin Tendulkar and vice versa. These two have both played under Rahul Dravid’s captaincy. These three have played under Anil Kumble and all of them have played under Dhoni.

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

(With PTI Inputs)

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