'Sachin played under Ganguly': Ashwin stands up for Hardik Pandya amid MI's growing silence on unreal fan hate | Cricket - Hindustan Times

'Sachin played under Ganguly': Ashwin stands up for Hardik Pandya amid MI's growing silence on unreal fan hate

Mar 30, 2024 05:18 PM IST

R Ashwin spoke in great detail about Hardik Pandya copping hate from fans after being ascended to captaincy role at Mumbai Indians

Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya didn't have the best of starts to his stint as the side's skipper. Hardik's appointment as captain met with significant opposition from the franchise's own fans, most of whom seemed to side with Rohit Sharma over his rather unceremonious sacking as skipper. Rohit led MI to five IPL titles during his time as captain, and many fans deemed his removal from the position as disrespectful to Rohit.

Mumbai Indians' captain Hardik Pandya reacts during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians(AFP)
Mumbai Indians' captain Hardik Pandya reacts during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians(AFP)

The situation surrounding Hardik Pandya worsened as the season began, as MI are yet to register a win in their two matches so far. In addition to the hate Hardik has been receiving on social media platforms, his performances with the bat aren't helping him either. In the side's previous game, MI conceded an IPL record total of 277/3 against SRH, and the skipper could only score 24 off 20 deliveries in the chase, recording the lowest strike rate in the batting order.

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Amid the relentless trolling of Hardik and the growing silence over his situation from Mumbai Indians, Ravichandran Ashwin, the star Indian off-spinner and member of the Rajasthan Royals, stood in solidarity with his compatriot.

Addressing the issue during a live stream on his YouTube channel alongside cricket analyst Prasanna Agoram, Ashwin emphasized the need to cease the ongoing fan conflicts, describing them as increasingly toxic. The duo discussed whether it was appropriate for the Mumbai Indians management to intervene and issue a statement, particularly in light of what was perceived as a misstep in player transfers.

“Neither has any role to play. Neither the franchise nor the player has a role to play in this at all. I think the responsibility and the onus lies on the fans,” Ashwin said, as quoted by Sportstar.

“Have you seen this happen in any other country? Have you seen Joe Root and Zak Crawley fans fight? Or have you seen Joe Root and Jos Buttler fans fight? It’s crazy. Have you seen Steve Smith and Pat Cummins fans fight in Australia?

"I’ve said this many times. This is cricket. This is a cinema culture. I know there are things like marketing, positioning and branding. I don’t deny it. I don’t believe in all this on my side but it’s not wrong to indulge either. 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?” Ashwin said.

'Tendulkar played under Ganguly'

Ashwin further provided an example to prove his point, stating that one of India's greatest cricketers, Sachin Tendulkar, played under Sourav Ganguly after stepping down as captain. Later, both played under Rahul Dravid, too. Subsequently, the trio took the field in MS Dhoni's captaincy.

“I don’t understand. If you don’t like a player and boo a player, why should a team come out to issue a clarification? We act like this has not happened before. (Sourav) Ganguly played under Sachin (Tendulkar) and vice versa. These two have both played under Rahul Dravid’s captaincy. These three have played under Anil Kumble and all of them have played under Dhoni. When they were under Dhoni, these players were cricket jambhavans (giants). Dhoni too played under Virat,” he said.

More recently, Virat Kohli has played – and continues to play – under Rohit Sharma's captaincy across all three formats. Additionally, he had also stepped down as RCB skipper in 2021 and has since played under South Africa's Faf du Plessis.

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