'48,000 Dhoni shirts, couldn't believe it': Langer criticises Indian cricket fans with 'Hardik booed every game' claim | Crickit
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'48,000 Dhoni shirts, couldn't believe it': Langer criticises Indian cricket fans with 'Hardik booed every game' claim

May 25, 2024 11:18 AM IST

Justin Langer hailed the hero worship of some cricketers like MS Dhoni in India, but also pointed out a disadvantage in it and used Hardik Pandya as an example.

With Kolkata Knight Riders set to face Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL 2024 final on Sunday, fans will be looking back at this season as one to remember. IPL 2024 saw plenty of big moments like Riyan Parag finally justifying his RR selection, Sunil Narine's opening role for KKR, MI's drama and much more.

Chennai Super Kings' MS Dhoni (R) runs between the wickets as Mumbai Indians' captain Hardik Pandya looks on.(AFP)
Chennai Super Kings' MS Dhoni (R) runs between the wickets as Mumbai Indians' captain Hardik Pandya looks on.(AFP)

But the main attention once again was MS Dhoni. Prior to the IPL 2024 opener, Dhoni handed over the captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad, but it was the veteran who was the unofficial leader on the field. Facing CSK in Chennai turned out to be a daunting task for opponents due to the massive presence of spectators with Dhoni jerseys. It didn't make it easier in their home games, as their supporters too turned up with Dhoni jerseys when CSK visited their venue.

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Speaking on BBC Sport - Stumped, LSG coach Justin Langer opened up on his first-ever experience of managing a team in the IPL. The Australian spoke about Dhoni's crazy fandom in India, and compared it to Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.

"It’s extraordinary. I heard about it first; then we played them [CSK] twice. They came to Lucknow, and our capacity crowd [in Ekana Stadium] is about 50,000, and honestly, there would have been 48,000 MS Dhoni number seven shirts. I couldn’t believe it, and then we went to CSK, and there wasn’t 98%; there was 100%. And it’s unbelievable. The hero worship in India is unbelievable," he said.

"And look, I felt it when we played in India before as a player, particularly with Sachin Tendulkar. Then, when I was coaching with [Australia], Virat Kohli, and MS Dhoni, But when you get over there, it’s unbelievable."

Langer also felt that the hero worship of some cricketers in India, was hurting other players too and had its disadvantages. Before the IPL 2024 auction last year, Hardik Pandya rejoined MI in a shock transfer, and immediately replaced fan-favourite Rohit Sharma as captain. Pandya had left MI in 2022 and joined GT, where he was made skipper. He led them to the title in their debut season, followed by a runners-up finish. But he has failed to replicate his captaincy skills in his second MI stint.

"And I saw the flip side of it as well because Rohit Sharma is a huge hero in India as India captain. And what happened with Mumbai Indians this year… Hardik Pandya took over as the captain from Rohit Sharma. The much-loved Rohit Sharma. And it was really sad to watch. You know, he got booed every game by the Indian crowds. He’s the vice-captain of the Indian T20I squad. So, I saw both sides of it. I learned this from Jonty Rhodes and Morne Morkel, who’d been to the IPL before. Rather than getting upset by it, go with the flow," Langer stated.

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