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Pandya gets booed again as chants of Rohit fill Wankhede

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Mumbai, April 1: There was no letup in crowd hostility towards Hardik Pandya with fans booing the Mumbai Indians skipper as he walked out for toss in their IPL match against Rajasthan Royals on Monday, even as chants of ‘Rohit. Rohit’ reverberated across the Wankhede Stadium.
But, with the bat in his hand, Pandya managed to get the crowd on his side, quickly turning the jeers into cheers with half a dozen boundaries during a 21-ball 34, which lifted his team from 20/4 to 76/5 in the 10th over, when his entertaining knock came to an end.
In fact, the cheers from around the ground were as loud as any when Pandya smashed his first four, a far cry from the evening’s hostile reception.
The 29-year-old Pandya, who replaced Rohit as the captain of the Mumbai Indians in the lead-up to the tournament, has already been subjected to crowd’s anger over the franchise’s decision regarding leadership during the team’s previous two away games at Ahmedabad and Hyderabad.
Pandya was booed by a section of the crowd before the toss when he was doing rounds of the field as a warm-up exercise.
The flamboyant all-rounder was then booed again when his named was announced at the time of the toss, to which Pandya only smiled as loud chants in support of the former Mumbai skipper Rohit filled the venue.
The jeers continued as Pandya began speaking after losing the toss to Rajasthan Royals’ skipper Sanju Samson, forcing presenter Sanjay Manjrekar to ask the crowd to “behave”.
Right at that moment, Rohit, in his training kit, was meeting his former teammate Harbhajan Singh who was at the field as one of the commentators doing the pre-match show.
If the relentless booing was not enough, Pandya again found himself at the receiving end of crowd’s displeasure, especially from the Sachin Tendulkar stand when he walked out to bat with his team reeling at 20/4 in the fourth over.
“The day Hardik wins a game for MI by contributing big, he’ll walk into the Wankhede to a hero’s welcome! Wankhede will soon chant ‘Navratri maa Daandiya, Wankhede maa Pandya’,” said Nish Navalkar, a member of the ‘North Stand Gang’ at the iconic venue.
Additionally, as per officials here, the fans were allowed inside the stadium only after their banners were confiscated due to an election commission directive given to the Mumbai police.
However, there was an element of miscommunication as well as misinterpretation since the directive was about not allowing political banners but fans complained on social media about all banners being taken away.
There were, nevertheless, a few fans who were able to carry their banners inside. (PTI)

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