Fan wars should never go in this ugly route: R Ashwin

Ravichandran Ashwin

The skipper of the Mumbai Indians, Hardik Pandya, has not had the best of starts to his captaincy stint, with his side losing both their games so far in the seventeenth edition of the IPL. On both occurrences, it was Pandya who won the toss and elected to bowl first, with his side losing by 6 and 31 runs against the Gujarat Titans and the Sunrisers Hyderabad, respectively.

As far as the transference of captaincy is concerned, it wasn’t taken kindly by die-hard devotees of Rohit Sharma and MI. Rohit captained MI to five IPL titles, and his ousting from the position was perceived by many fans as a sign of disrespect towards him, with Hardik being the target of immense doses of resentment and trolling – on social media platforms and during matches alike.

To amplify the hardship for Hardik, in MI’s most recent fixture against SRH, MI conceded a record 277/3 against the home team SRH, with Hardik going for 1/46 in his quota and registering the lowest strike-rate (120) amongst his teammates, getting dismissed for a 20-ball 24.

As Hardik faced relentless trolling and MI maintained silence over his situation, Ashwin, the renowned Indian off-spinner and currently a part of the Rajasthan Royals, expressed solidarity with his compatriot. During a live stream on his YouTube channel with cricket analyst Prasanna Agoram, Ashwin highlighted the necessity to end the ongoing fan conflicts, labeling them as progressively toxic.

The pair deliberated on the appropriateness of the MI management intervening and releasing an official statement, especially considering what was seen as a botched player transfer.

“Neither has any role to play. Neither the franchise nor the player has a role to play in this at all. I think the responsibility and the onus lies on the fans,” Ashwin said, as quoted by Sportstar.

Ashwin also compared the situation of the cohort of supporters to the likes of those of Joe Root and Zak Crawley, Root and Jos Buttler, and Steven Smith and Pat Cummins, wanting to make a point about how he’s never witnessed a fight break out between supporters of the aforementioned players.

“Have you seen this happen in any other country? Have you seen Joe Root and Zak Crawley fans fight? Or have you seen Joe Root and Jos Buttler fans fight? It’s crazy. Have you seen Steve Smith and Pat Cummins fans fight in Australia?,” said Ashwin.

He also added that passion is a critical component of a sport like cricket that disputes between fans should never descend into such an incongruous scenario, and that at the end of the day, those are the same individuals representing the country, which doesn’t vindicate them being derided.

“Fan wars should never go in this ugly a route. One should remember which country these players represent – our country. So then what warrants a cricketer getting booed?” Ashwin stated.