Mumbai Indians skipper Hardik Pandya in IPL 2024© AFP

The appointment of Hardik Pandya as the Mumbai Indians skipper ahead of IPL 2024 resulted in a massive controversy both among experts as well as fans and things have not improved as the five-time champions slumped to three consecutive losses in the competition. Hardik ended Rohit Sharma‘s ten-year tenure as MI skipper after completing a trade move from Gujarat Titans and the crowd reaction towards him has been less than desirable. He was booed in the first three matches including a home game at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai – an incident that resulted in commentator Sanjay Manjrekar asking the crowd to “behave” themselves.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan recently spoke about the topic and said that it was “staggering” to see the cricket-crazy Indian fanbase booing one of their own players.

“The big debate is whether Rohit Sharma will end up back as captain. That has caused a lot of drama here in India. The booing… I have to say, the Indian crowd just loves cricket. I have never heard them boo. I’ve certainly never heard them boo one of their own. I get the booing when he played at (Ahmedabad) against the Gujarat Titans. He’s left them and joined Mumbai. He took them to a title. So I get that in a pantomime kind of way.”

“But for him to go to Hyderabad and get booed and then come to Wankhede and get booed by the Mumbai Indians fans while he is playing for them, I’m staggered by it. I have never seen the Indian crowd boo one of their own. It’s remarkable,” Vaughan said on the Club Prairie Fire podcast with former Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.

In response, Gilchrist pointed out that the controversy and reactions from the fans points towards Rohit’s popularity and support among the fanbase.

“It shows you the status that Rohit Sharma has in the game there. The mysterious manner with which it all played out initially, the pace with which it happened, everyone was stunned with Mumbai getting Hardik Pandya away from Gujarat and then Rohit relinquishing captaincy. It’s an odd one. But this is the nature of the beast in the IPL. The tribalism and intensity within fan bases. It’s hard to replicate anywhere else with that level of intensity,” Gilchrist explained.

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