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IPL 2024

IPL 2024: Kohli appears to ask Mumbai crowd to back captain Hardik Pandya

The ace batter had urged the Indian fans against booing Australian cricketer Steve Smith during the 2019 World Cup in England.

Mumbai Indians’ captain Hardik Pandya praises Mumbai Indians’ captain Hardik Pandya at the end of an Indian Premier League match between the two teams at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 11, 2024. (Photo by INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

HE had done it in the past and he did it again on Thursday (11), this time in favour of a cricketer from his own country.

Ace batter Virat Kohli was seen appearing to ask the crowd at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai to stop booing the home side captain during an Indian Premier League (IPL) game against Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB), the franchise he plays for in the domestic T20 tournament.

As Hardik Pandya walked in to bat following the dismissal of his predecessor Rohit Sharma, the crowd started booing. But the Mumbai Indians skipper ignored it to hit a first-ball six, which at once saw the booing changing to cheering for the cricketer, who has been mocked at various venues that he has played in this IPL.

Read: No team unbeaten in IPL 2024 now as Gujarat humble Rajasthan

Pandya’s replacing Sharma, who has led Mumbai to five trophies, has not gone down well with many fans. The fact that Mumbai started their season under Pandya’s captaincy with three consecutive defeats added fuel to the fire.

After the match that saw Mumbai winning comfortably despite chasing a total of 197 in 20 overs, a few videos surfaced showing Kohli gesturing and mouthing something to the crowd. Some commentators said the ace batter was asking the fans to back their own captain instead of booing him.

Read: Late surge doesn’t help Punjab as Hyderabad win by 2 runs

His act was widely appreciated. “Only a heartless man can hate Virat Kohli,” said one user.

It is not the first time that Kohli has done so for an opponent cricketer. During the 2019 World Cup at the Oval in England, Kohli had asked the Indian fans not to boo Australian cricketer Steve Smith who had just returned from a year-long ban for a ball-tampering incident in South Africa.

“Just because there’s so many Indian fans here, I just didn’t want them to set a bad example, to be honest, because he didn’t do anything to be booed in my opinion,” Kohli, who was the India captain then, had said.

Before him, Sharma and even commentator Sanjay Manjrekar had asked the crowd not to boo Pandya.

On the ground, however, RCB’s poor form continued as they slumped to their fifth defeat in six games and are now lagging at No.9 out of 10 teams.

Despite Kohli falling for just three, RCB captain Faf du Plessis’s 40-ball 61, Rajat Patidar’s 26-ball 50 and Dinesh Karthik’s unbeaten 23-ball 53 propelled their team to 196 for 8 in 20 overs. Jasprit Bumrah picked five wickets for 21 runs in his four overs.

But the total proved to be inadequate, thanks to some powerful batting from Mumbai’s Ishan Kishan (69 off 34), Sharma (38 off 24), Suryakumar Yadav (52 off 19), Pandya (21 not out off six) and Tilak Varma (16 not out off 10) as the home team cruised home in less than 16 overs with seven wickets to spare.

Bumrah was picked the player of the match.

This was Mumbai’s second successive win after three losses on the trot and now they are in the seventh position with four points in five outings.

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