IPL 2024: Can Hardik Pandya win back the Mumbai crowd? | Cricket News

“If there’s one thing you should know about this team, we never give up. We’ll keep fighting, we’ll keep going,” Mumbai Indians captain and India allrounder Hardik Pandya posted on X, a day after his team’s six-wicket loss to Rajasthan Royals in front of a hostile Wankhede crowd on Monday.
The way things have transpired after the MI team management chose to bring the allrounder back to his alma mater from Gujarat Titans and crowned him as captain, relieving Rohit Sharma, the choice of words could have been better than the ironic “we’ll keep fighting.”

Apart from turning around a wretched campaign so far that has seen MI lose three games out of three, Hardik will need to have the Wankhede crowd by his side.

The crowd has often acted as MI’s 12th man and the energy it provided has helped them turn around seemingly lost causes.
MI now have three more home games, starting Sunday (vs DC), vs RCB (April 11) and CSK (April 14) and if they can win all three, a play-off spot may still be possible. But for that to happen, Hardik will have to reach out to his ex-captain Rohit.
One did not see too much interaction between the two on the field in the three games that we have witnessed thus far. The management, bowling coach Lasith Malinga, batting coach Kieron Pollard and head coach Mark Boucher can also play a part in pulling everyone together.
If the crowd sees more engagement between the former and current captain, may be the hostility would reduce. Optics is everything. Rohit too has a role to play here. Instead of appearing disappointed, a smile or a hug for his new captain could do wonders.
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Tactically too Hardik and the thinktank need to get smarter. Not bowling on a fresh wicket, which offered help vs Royals, is a mystery, especially when he has chosen to bowl on flatter surfaces ahead of Jasprit Bumrah. Why was Dewald Brevis sent in as an impact sub in the first over ahead of Tilak Varma? Why Piyush Chawla was used as a nightwatchman in T20 cricket for Tim David?
For a brief while, on Monday, when Hardik counter-attacked during his innings of 34 (27 balls), the boos from the crowd turned into cheers. That was indicative of what they demand. Results. Nothing else matters.

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