Fan wars should never take ugly route: Ashwin supports Hardik Pandya

PTI, Mar 30, 2024, 6:48 PM IST

Hardik Pandya (Credit; BCCI /

Veteran spinner R Ashwin came out in vehement support of besieged Hardik Pandya after the Mumbai Indians captain was subjected to venomous reception by fans across Ahmedabad and Hyderabad.

Ashwin squarely blamed the prevailing atmosphere of ”fan wars” and ”cinema culture” for the hostile treatment of Pandya by the spectators and in social media spaces, which started after the all-rounder replaced Rohit Sharma as MI captain ahead of IPL 2024.

”Fan wars should never go this ugly a route. One should remember which country these players represent – our country. So, then what warrants a cricketer getting booed? ”I don’t understand. If you don’t like a player and boo a player, why should a team come out to issue a clarification,” Ashwin said in his YouTube Channel while answering a question from one of the viewers.

Pandya had to go through a hostile round of booing during their season opener against his former side Gujarat Titans as the fans vented their sense of betrayal.

The 30-year-old also suffered a similar treatment by fans at Hyderabad, a neutral venue, in the match against the Sunrisers.

”This is cricket, and there is a prevalent cinema culture. I know there are things like marketing, positioning and branding. I agree with all that. But I don’t believe in all this, but it’s not wrong to indulge in either,” said Ashwin.

The experienced off-spinner said neither the player nor the Mumbai team management owed an explanation on the issue, but urged the fans to be more rational in their behaviour. ”Neither has any role to play. Neither the franchise not the player has a role to play in this at all. I think the responsibility and the onus lies on the fans,” he said.

Ashwin, who recently completed the double of 100 Tests and 500 wickets, said toxicity has been increasing among Indian fans as compared to fans from some other cricketing nations.

”Have you seen this happen in any other country? Have you seen fans of Joe Root and Zak Crawley fight? Have you seen fans of Joe Root and Jos Buttler fight? ”Have you seen Steve Smith and Pat Cummins fans fight in Australia,” Ashwin pointed out.

The Chennai man also brought out examples from the past when legends like Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly played under MS Dhoni, a much younger cricketer then, setting aside their egos.

”Sourav Ganguly played under Sachin Tendulkar and vice versa. These two have both played under Rahul Dravid’s captaincy. These three have played under Anil Kumble and all of them have played under Dhoni.

”When they were under Dhoni, these players were cricket jambhavans (veterans). Dhoni too played under Virat (Kohli),” he said.

However, this is not the first time the fan fights have crossed the limit as the fanatic supporters of Kohli and Rohit – the self-styled Viratians and Rohitians — used to have a X-rated war in social media domains. Ashwin called for an end to such practices.

”We are all happy to sit in our houses, look outside and someone else to pick up the trash. We should correct ourselves first. Real times sports have real time emotions. A real sport can never be compared to cinema. Heroes and hero worships are great,” he stressed.

While he was not against hero adulation, Ashwin urged fans to enjoy sports without noxiousness.

”I am all for it (hero worship). Enjoy what you like about your favourites but not at the cost of putting another player down. This is one thing I’d love to see disappear,” he said.

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