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Rohit Sharma addresses fan backlash against Hardik Pandya

Mumbai Indians found themselves in another intense IPL battle, and once again, the spotlight was on Hardik Pandya, who has been under increasing scrutiny since assuming the captaincy from Rohit Sharma. The murmurs of disapproval were palpable as Pandya stepped onto the field for the toss against Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede Stadium. The chants of 'Rohit... Rohit' echoed across the stands, a clear indication of the fans' sentiments.

However, Pandya's performance with the bat quickly shifted the narrative. His blistering knock of 34 runs off 21 balls, peppered with boundaries, swiftly turned the jeers into cheers, as the crowd rallied behind him in appreciation of his efforts to resurrect the innings from a precarious 20/4 to a more respectable 76/5.

Despite Pandya's spirited display, Mumbai Indians faltered, ultimately succumbing to a six-wicket defeat after posting a modest total of 125/9. The backlash against Pandya's captaincy decision had been brewing, evident from previous encounters in Ahmedabad and Hyderabad.

The hostile reception persisted as Pandya faced the crowd during warm-up exercises and at the toss, where chants for Rohit overshadowed the proceedings. Even as Pandya smiled through the jeers, the atmosphere remained charged, prompting commentator Sanjay Manjrekar to intervene and urge the crowd to show restraint.

In a poignant moment, a video surfaced showing Rohit seemingly appealing to the crowd to desist from booing his successor. The incident underscored the tensions surrounding Pandya's leadership tenure.

However, amidst the discord, there were voices of support, with fans expressing optimism for Pandya's future performances. Nish Navalkar, a member of the 'North Stand Gang,' envisioned a scenario where Pandya's heroics would be celebrated with fervor at the Wankhede Stadium.

Additionally, confusion marred the proceedings as banners were confiscated from fans due to a directive from the election commission, although the focus was on political banners rather than all signage. Despite the setbacks, a few fortunate fans managed to display their banners inside the stadium.

The saga surrounding Pandya's captaincy continues to unfold, with each match adding another chapter to the ongoing narrative of triumphs and tribulations for the Mumbai Indians.

April 2, 2024 11:26 a.m. 13729

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