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IPL 2024: Hardik Pandya booed again after dropping a difficult catch; pitch invader hugs rohit

Mumbai, April 1 2024-

Boos rang out in the Wankhede Stadium once again as Mumbai Indians skipper Hardik Pandya failed to latch on to a difficult chance against Rajasthan Royals in Match 14 of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024.

Jos Buttler drove uppish to full-length delivery by Jasprit Bumrah and Pandya dived to his left, got his hand to the balls but couldn’t hold on as it popped out. It was a screamer of a shot and Pandya made a superb effort to grab it. His brilliant but futile attempt received boos from a section of the crowd.

While the crowd was booing Pandya while watching replays of his effort on the big screen, a fan ran into the field from the third-man region and ran to Rohit Sharma who was fielding in the slips. As the man reached him, Rohit was first startled and then hugged him as the pitch invader stood in front of him. The invader was eventually escorted out of the stadium by security personnel.

This was the fifth time that Hardik Pandya was heckled by the crowd at the Wankhede on Monday. He was first heckled by some of the spectators during the press-match practice.

Boos rang out again when the Mumbai Indians skipper was introduced by commentator Sanjay Manjrekar for the toss. Manjrekar asked the crowd to behave. But the crowd jeered the Mumbai Indians skipper once again when he started to speak to the broadcaster after the toss.

Pandya maintained his cool and continued to talk even as the booing continued. Though he maintained a poker face, it was clear that the Mumbai Indians captain was not happy with the way he was being treated by the fans for a decision taken by the franchise.

The spectators reacted with jeers once again when Pandya walked to the crease to bat. But they turned in his favour as Pandya hammered a few pleasing shots as he and Tilak Varma raised 56 runs for the fifth wicket. The crowd cheered his shots but a section of the spectators turned against him again and expressed its displeasure a fifth time when he dropped the catch.

Hardik, who was appointed Mumbai Indians skipper in an abrupt decision by the franchise in place of fan-favourite Rohit Sharma who has led the franchise to multiple IPL titles, was booed by fans at Ahmedabad in their tournament opener against Gujarat Titans. It was expected as Hardik had sensationally moved from Titans to Mumbai Indians just ahead of IPL 2024 and left the team after leading them to the title in 2022 and runner-up place in the last edition.

He was also booed by fans in Hyderabad when Mumbai Indians players SRH. Getting hooted by the opposing team’s fans in away matches is expected because of the rivalry between the franchises.

However, what came as a surprise was Hardik Pandya getting heckled by fans in what is Mumbai Indians’ den. The booing started even before the match as the players were warming up. A section of fans started chanting “Rohit, Rohit” looking at Hardik. However, when Rohit came out to meet a former teammate who is now a commentator, the fans appreciated him by changing his name.

There were reports before Monday’s match against Rajasthan Royals that Pandya could be booed at the Wankhede and that the franchise has asked the security personnel to take action against such behaviour, the Mumbai Cricket Association has denied such reports and said they will follow the BCCI protocols when it comes to crowd control inside the stadium. (Agency)

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