IPL 2024: Ashwin calls on fans to stop booing Mumbai Indians captain Pandya

Ashwin's Rajasthan Royals face Hardik's team next week in wake of hostility from crowds aimed at all-rounder

Mumbai Indians' captain Hardik Pandya and his teammate Rohit Sharma (L) gesture during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Gujarat Titans and Mumbai Indians at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on March 24, 2024.  (Photo by Punit PARANJPE  /  AFP)  /  -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE --
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Ravichandran Ashwin has condemned Indian cricket’s “fan wars” and called for an end to the booing of Hardik Pandya.

Pandya has been booed by opposition fans in each of his first two appearances since taking over from Rohit Sharma as Mumbai Indians captain in the IPL.

The first match was against Gujarat Titans, the side he formerly captained before he returned to Mumbai this season.

The hostile reception he received in Ahmedabad was matched next time out when he led his side against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

His problems were compounded by the fact his side were unable to resist an extraordinary batting onslaught in defeat to Hyderabad.

On Saturday evening, Pandya was afforded something of a pick-me-up in the form of his brother’s excellence for Lucknow Super Giants.

Krunal Pandya, a former teammate of his brother at Mumbai, made 43 not out in 22 balls as Lucknow posted 199 for eight in their game against Punjab Kings.

Earlier in the day, Hardik had received support from his India teammate Ashwin.

Speaking on his YouTube channel, Ashwin said the hostility towards Pandya needs to stop.

“People should remember which country these players represent,” Ashwin said.

“It’s our country. Fan wars should never take such an ugly route. I’ve said it many times, this is cinema culture, that happens only here.

“I know there are many things like marketing, branding, and positioning. I don’t deny it, but have you seen these fights happen in any other country? 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?”

Ashwin, whose Rajasthan Royals side play Pandya’s Mumbai next week, said Indian cricket has a history with the issue.

“We act like this has not happened before,” he said. “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 [giants]. Dhoni too played under Virat Kohli.”

Ashwin said he hopes the hostility will “disappear from the face of the earth”.

“You know what the issue is?” he said. “We all happily sit inside our houses and look at the trash outside. We expect someone else to pick it up instead of doing it ourselves.

“This is real-time sport. Sport has real players with real emotions, nothing is scripted. Hero and hero worshipping is great, but sport should never be compared to cinema.

“How we go beyond that, counter it and find balance to play cricket is what this is all about.

“You are free to enjoy what you like about your favourite players or team, but not at the cost of putting another player down. This is one thing I’d love to see disappear from the face of the earth in our country.”

Updated: March 31, 2024, 4:21 AM