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Booing Hardik Pandya: Indian fans had once mocked legendary Sunil Gavaskar at home

In 1984-85, Gavaskar, the then Indian captain, faced the crowd’s wrath at Eden Gardens in Kolkata (then Calcutta) for allegedly dropping ace all-rounder Kapil Dev in a Test match at the venue.

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar (L) plays a shot in the fourth Test against England in Delhi during the controversial series at home in 1984-85 (Mandatory Credit: Adrian Murrell/Allsport UK) and Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

ONE of the wrong reasons for which the 2024 Indian Premier League (IPL) has stormed the headlines is the relentless booing of Hardik Pandya, the ace all-rounder who is captaining Mumbai Indians (MI) in place of their regular captain Rohit Sharma, by the crowd. The franchise’s decision to make the replacement in the top position has not gone down well with many fans.

Be it in Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat or Hyderabad in Telangana or even at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, the franchise’s home ground, the 30-year-old found a hostile crowd. The fact that Mumbai lost the first three matches of their campaign and reports that Pandya was not gelling well with the team has not helped his cause.

On Monday (1), even commentator Sanjay Manjrekar was heard telling the crowd to “behave” at the time of the toss while Sharma was seen gesturing at the spectators suggesting them to calm down while fielding near the boundary.

Read: IPL: Pandya booed again as Mumbai crash to 3rd straight defeat

Former England captain Kevin Pietersen was taken aback when he was an Indian cricketer getting booed on home soil since cricketers are revered like demi-gods in these parts of the world.

However, this is not the first time that such an instance has happened in India’s eventful cricket history.

Legendary Gavaskar was booed on home turf

In 1984-85, Sunil Gavaskar, arguably the greatest opening batter that India has produced, had faced a similar situation as the captain of the national side. The home team had decided to leave out their iconic all-rounder Kapil Dev, who had led the country to their maiden World Cup in one-day cricket in 1983, for the third Test match at Eden Gardens in Kolkata (then Calcutta), and the crowd was furious.

Read: Two assassinations, riots & an industrial disaster: England’s turbulent 1984 cricket tour of India

It is alleged that Dev was dropped at Gavaskar’s insistence apparently because of a ‘reckless’ shot he had played in the previous match in Delhi. The India captain was greeted with slogans and banners saying “No Kapil, No Test” and “Go Back Gavaskar”.

Former India captain Kapil Dev
Former India batter Kapil Dev plays a one handed shot during the second Test match against England in Delhi, India, in December 1984. He was dropped in the next match in Calcutta (Kolkata today), angering the crowd. (Photo by Adrian Murrell/Allsport/Getty Images)

The situation was tense and fearing that the crowd might turn more violent had they lost (the five-match series was tied at the start of the third match), India continued to bat in their first innings till the fourth day. They had played 200 overs and eventually declared at 437 for 7 after the local police told them that there could be riots if they did not declare.

At one instance, England captain Allan Lamb was seen holding his Indian counterpart’s hand and going towards the crowd and asking them to stop heckling their own captain. The match ended in a dull draw and Dev was returned for the fourth game in Madras (now Chennai) which India lost and eventually squandered the series 1-2.

Dev, however, was in decent form in the series. In four Tests that he played, the all-rounder scored 253 runs at an average of over 42 with a top score of 60 and picked up 10 wickets at an economy rate of less than three. Years later, Gavaskar denied that he had dropped Kapil Dev in the match in Kolkata, saying why would he do so with his only match-winner.

Gavaskar had also an ugly memory of playing at the Eden Gardens in a Test match against the West Indies in 1983 and it was alleged that both he and his wife Marshneil Gavaskar were targeted by the crowd after the ace batter failed to get runs in the match that the Caribbeans won one-sidedly and hammered India 3-0 in the series.

Gavaskar reportedly was so angry with the Eden Gardens crowd that he had vowed not to play at the venue again and had kept his words.

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