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IPL 2024: Time for fans to stop booing Hardik Pandya and support him

Updated: Apr 15

IPL 2024: Hardik Pandya booed by cricket fans across the grounds due to his move from Gujarat Titans to Mumbai Indians. Who it should stop and what do players & ex-players have to say about it? Let's understand the player transfer better.


IPL 2024: Hardik Pandya booed by the cricket fans across the grounds due to his move from Gujarat Titans to Mumbai Indians | Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_IPLT20)
IPL 2024: Hardik Pandya booed by the cricket fans (Images: ©BCCI/IPLT20)

Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 has been in the news for a few wrong reasons lately. The constant booing of Mumbai Indians (MI) captain Hardik Pandya by fans in the stadium and the social media trolling have been rather unfortunate. He has been booed by both fans of his current franchise Mumbai and his former team Gujarat Titans (GT). For the record, Pandya moved to Mumbai from Gujarat and took over the captaincy after leading the latter for two seasons. 


He was booed in the first match between Gujarat and Mumbai at Ahmedabad as Titans fans could not digest how Pandya, being from the state and leading the team to an IPL title, could move to another team. On the other hand, Mumbai fans, especially Rohit Sharma’s supporters, could not see Pandya taking over the captaincy from the ‘Hitman’, who has led the team to five IPL titles. Fans of Rohit and Pandya have even taken to social media to troll each other.


Meanwhile, the booing has continued for all the next four Mumbai games as well. There was constant booing whenever Pandya came out for the toss, bowled, fielded, or batted. The booing even continued in Mumbai’s home game at Wankhede against Rajasthan Royals (RR) and it was so loud that commentator Sanjay Manjrekar, who was conducting the toss, had to ask fans to “behave”. 



How the cricket fraternity reacted?

Both current and former players have condemned the booing and stated this leaves a bad taste in the mouth.  RR player R Ashwin, who has moved a few franchises, condemned this fan war. “Fan wars should never go in this ugly a route. One should remember which country these players represent- our country. So, then what warrants a cricketer getting booed?” he asked.


Harsha Bhogle summed up Pandya’s move to Mumbai as just another career progression that Pandya made like any other routine job. He said, “Imaging you are the CFO of a company, you get a job as a CEO of a midsize company, are you saying No, I’m not taking it? Of course, you do, and you do so well as the CEO that your former company calls you back, and says well done. Pandya has done an amazing job as captain of Titans, I’m saddened by the toxicity I’m seeing, but we should not look too much beyond that.”


Support has poured in from international players as well. Aussie cricketer Steven Smith advised Pandya to “block it out, it's all irrelevant. No one outside knows what you are going through. No one (from outside) is in that changing room."



IPL 2024_ Hardik Pandya will captain Mumbai Indians _ Walking Wicket (©MIpaltan_Twitter)
Hardik Pandya played for 7 seasons for Mumbai Indians (Images: ©MIpaltan/Twitter)
Headline Transfers: Drawing parallels in the game and beyond

Although IPL has seen transfers before, a high-profile transfer where a successful captain has moved to his former team to take over the leadership from the current successful leader has not happened before. And hence, fans’ reactions from either team have gone overboard. 


These transfers are common in various football leagues across the world, and it is considered part of the profession, and not much deal is made out of it. Cristiano Ronaldo moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid to Juventus and back to United. But fans welcomed both his leaving and returning as such transfers are part and parcel of a footballer’s life. Football fans respect the decisions of the players, support them wholeheartedly and move on. 


Such transfers will continue to happen in IPL, and fans must understand it is part and parcel of the sport. With IPL becoming bigger every year, fans should be ready to see such high-profile transfers in the future. One may even see Rohit moving out of Mumbai next season to play for another team, may or may not as captain. 


Fans should not be attaching regionalism to players as IPL is known to have players from different regions playing for different teams. For example, Virat Kohli, who plays for Delhi in domestic cricket, has played all his IPL career for Bengaluru, and he is simply loved by the fans of the Royal Challengers Bengaluru. 


Kohli himself said that as long as he is playing, he will continue to render his services for RCB, and no other team. If in the future, Kohli plans to move out of RCB to play for another team, fans should come out to support his career move. Earlier, players such as Harbhajan Singh and Ambati Rayudu moved out of a successful Mumbai side to win IPL titles with Chennai.



The way forward

It's time for fans to get mature over players’ movements across franchises, and not get too attached to such moves or hurl abuses and boo their favourite players. It’s time to consider such transfers and consider them as part of the professional setup of IPL.


Also, fans do not understand how it could disturb a player’s mental space with this constant heckling and booing. Pandya did make a few mistakes early in his job as Mumbai captain and he was constantly criticised for every move on the field or with the bat. 


But thankfully, Hardik Pandya didn’t let it affect him and persisted with his job. He understood the only way to win over the fans is by performing and winning matches. Also, Pandya has been supported throughout this tough time by the Mumbai leadership group. The big win over RCB has brought smiles back in the Mumbai camp and the Rohit-Pandya camaraderie shows that all is well in the dugout and that the boos will slowly meet their death.


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