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Rohit Sharma tasked with saving Hardik Pandya from crowd fire.

Image: AFP

Hardik Pandya, the captain of Mumbai Indians in IPL 2024, has encountered a wave of boos from the crowd each time he's led the team onto the field. The task of leading one of the most prestigious franchises in cricket comes with immense pressure, particularly following in the footsteps of Rohit Sharma, who led the team to five titles in ten years.

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The burden of matching Rohit's legacy, combined with the challenge of justifying the franchise's decision to appoint him as captain, weighs heavily on Hardik's shoulders. However, in the two matches played thus far, he hasn't quite risen to the occasion.

 

👉 Virat Kohli requests his fans not to boo for Steve smith and instead appluad him for his wonderful comeback. pic.twitter.com/64cvbf9Cop

— Jay. (@peak_Ability14) August 2, 2020

As Mumbai Indians return home for their next match against Rajasthan Royals, the challenge only intensifies for Hardik. Some of the team's loyal supporters are expected to voice their discontent by booing and jeering at their new skipper.

While Hardik may manage to separate the fan backlash from his on-field duties, the negative sentiment is likely to affect him. In such situations, it's reminiscent of instances where predecessors have intervened to alter fan perception.

One notable example is when Virat Kohli halted Indian fans' booing of Steve Smith at the Adelaide Oval. Similarly, Kohli defused tension between fans and Naveen-ul-Haq after an altercation during IPL 2023. His intervention not only quelled the booing but also fostered reconciliation between the players.

With Mumbai Indians facing Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede Stadium, Rohit Sharma has the opportunity to address the captaincy controversy directly with the franchise's supporters. While the owners have made their decision to back Hardik, it's now up to Rohit to sway the fans' sentiments in favor of his successor.

Though Rohit may harbor reservations about the decision, he has accepted it. Now, he has the chance to win over the hearts of the fans who hold him in high regard and potentially change their perception of Hardik Pandya.

April 1, 2024 3:46 p.m. 12691

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