Ganguly, Sachin and Dravid all played under Dhoni: R Ashwin defends Hardik Pandya amid boos and trolling

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New Delhi: Senior India and Rajasthan Royals (RR) spinner R Ashwin has come out in support of Hardik Pandya and schooled the fans amid constant booing and trolling of the Mumbai Indians (MI) captain. Hardik has been subjected to intense criticism on social media and vehement booing in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 after replacing Rohit Sharma as the new MI skipper.

Hardik was booed when he came out for the toss during Mumbai Indians’ IPL 2024 opener against Gujarat Titans at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad last week. The boos continued in Hyderabad as Mumbai Indians slipped to their second successive defeat in IPL 2024 with a loss against Sunrisers Hyderabad in their second game.

The boos and trolling are down to fans not agreeing with Mumbai Indians’ decision to remove Rohit as captain of the five-time champions and appoint Hardik in his place. Rohit is one of the most successful captains in IPL history having led MI to as many as five titles. However, Ashwin strongly disagrees with the treatment being lent to Hardik and has slammed fans for making fan wars take an ‘ugly turn’.

Answering a question from a viewer on his YouTube channel on whether Mumbai Indians should release a statement in support of Hardik amid the trolling, Ashwin gave a strong statement. The senior spinner blamed fan war culture and cinema culture for the situation while explaining that sport is not cinema. Ashwin also insisted that people should not forget Hardik is an Indian cricketer and plays for the country.

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

“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,” he added.

Ashwin cites examples of Ganguly, Sachin and Dhoni

Ashwin also cited the examples of some of the former Indian captains like Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni among others, who all played under someone’s captaincy at some point in their careers after leading India for a long period. Ashwin recalled how Ganguly and Sachin played under each other’s captaincy while they both played under Dravid as a leader. The legendary trio played under Anil Kumble’s captaincy while all four of them played under Dhoni as captain.

“I don’t understand. If you don’t like a player and boo him, why should the club come out and issue a clarification? We act like this has not happened before,” said Ashwin.

“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 jambhavans (giants). Dhoni too played under Virat Kohli,” he added.

Mumbai Indians off to a shaky start under Hardik Pandya

Mumbai Indians are off to a poor start under Hardik’s captaincy in IPL 2024 with consecutive defeats in their first two matches of the season. MI suffered a close 6-run defeat against Gujarat Titans in their opening game of the season before losing against Sunrisers Hyderabad by 31 runs in a game that saw more than 500 runs being scored across the two innings.

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