‘Don’t care. Don’t pay attention. Block’: Hardik Pandya told to unhear booing fans with MS Dhoni anecdote | Cricket

'Don't care. Don't pay attention. Block': Hardik Pandya told to unhear booing fans with MS Dhoni anecdote | Cricket

Hardik Pandya‘s second stint with Mumbai Indians hasn’t gone according to plan. MI are winless in IPL 2024, having lost their opening two fixtures. They began their campaign with a 31-run defeat against Sunrisers Hyderabad, followed by a six-run loss vs Gujarat Titans.

Mumbai Indians’ captain Hardik Pandya during a match.(AFP)

Pandya rejoined MI before the auction last year, and replaced Rohit Sharma as captain. The all-rounder was released by the franchise in 2022 and joined GT as captain, leading them to the title in their debut season, followed by a runners-up finish.

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He hasn’t had a good start to IPL 2024 and was also jeered in his side’s second fixture in Ahmedabad. Facing his former team GT, he was booed by the home fans and a loss didn’t help his cause.

Speaking to ESPNCricinfo, Australia’s Steve Smith had some special advice for Pandya on how to deal with crowd abuse. Having faced something similar in the past, Smith said, “I’d try and just say, to block it out, it’s all irrelevant. No one outside knows what you are going through. No one [from outside] is in that change room.”

“Personally, for me, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t care. I don’t pay any attention. You know it’s all white noise, but certainly players do hear things and everyone’s entitled to their own emotions and how they respond to those. So is it affecting him [Hardik]? Maybe. It’s possible. He probably hasn’t experienced that before in, in any walk of life. So it’s natural, I suppose, and particularly being in India and a star Indian player, to be in that position where some fans are booing you, it’s certainly something he wouldn’t have experienced.”

In IPL 2017, Smith was also appointed as captain of Rising Pune Supergiant, replacing MS Dhoni. Smith revealed that his relationship with the India legend made it easier for him to deal with the role. “It was an enjoyable season and we had some success that year [2017], I suppose, which helped as well,” he said.

“But MS was great with everything that he did. He was supportive, he helped me in any way that he could. He was great behind the stumps, obviously. He’s got a great view of what’s going on in the game and the angles that sort of take place on the field, and was able to sort those out and get people in the right areas.

“Hardik is in the middle of a challenging time, losing the first two games their IPL season. It’s a big one for him. He’s filling big shoes with Rohit Sharma, who’s been the most successful captain [with Dhoni] in IPL history, lifting five titles, and it hasn’t started well for him.

“So he’s under a little bit of pressure at the moment and it’ll be interesting to see what the reception’s like in their first home game at Wankhede in a couple of days’ time. We have heard a few boos going around at the grounds, which… that’s been disappointing from my aspect. But I’m intrigued to see what the reception’s like in Mumbai. We know how big a star Rohit is and how much he is loved inside that stadium,” he further added.

MI face Rajasthan Royals in their upcoming fixture on Monday and will be seeking their first win of the campaign. MI are currently ninth in the ten-team table and RR are third. A win will be crucial for both sides.

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