Treatment of Hardik Pandya a new low for Indian fandom

Hardik Pandya for MI (Image: IPL)

One of the most disturbing visuals that surfaced in the aftermath of the Mumbai Indians -Gujarat Titans game was a Hardik Pandya fan being beaten up by some Rohit Sharma supporters. His crime? How could he be a Pandya fan, when his hero is currently Rohit’s captain at the Mumbai Indians?

Frankly, it has taken me hours to digest what transpired. It is much like the theatre of the absurd. That such a thing can happen in reality speaks volumes about the immaturity of Indian fans and the growing toxicity that is now a part of our fandom. Anyone who can beat up a fellow fan for supporting someone else isn’t a fan in the first place. Such unhinged people are, in reality, a blot on fandom.

Second, Pandya getting booed or abused is just unacceptable. He was traded to the Mumbai Indians and opted to accept the offer because it was a career upgrade. Any sportsperson is within his rights to do so. Mumbai decided to invest in him as captain, and it is entirely their call as the franchise in question. To abuse Hardik is just ridiculous.

And if these fans feel that by abusing Hardik, they are showing their loyalty to Rohit, they are badly mistaken. Knowing Rohit well, he would be the last person to stand for such toxicity. The two need to play together, and do so with complete commitment for MI to stand a chance. As professionals, they know their job, as we have seen in the very first game. There will never be any less commitment from Rohit, for that’s how he is and how a professional should be. While some of Hardik’s captaincy calls could indeed be questioned, like sending Tim David ahead of himself, to abuse him and call him names is plain unacceptable.

The moot point here is the abuse and the toxicity. You can surely have reservations about Hardik or anyone else. You might feel let down because he decided to leave Gujarat and join MI. As a Rohit fan, you might well ask why did the franchise went with Hardik as captain? But to escalate such thoughts and emotions to the level of abuse and physical harm is toxicity of a very different level, and that speaks volumes about the society we have turned into. We are an intolerant lot, and that’s the truth. We have lost the basic human instincts of empathy and dignity, and aren’t really sports fans in the first place. We don’t support teams. Rather, we claim to support individuals, and the index of loyalty is now measured by the volume of vitriol heaped on another player.


Pandya was trending all day yesterday, and of the 200,000 tweets, 90 percent were abusive. We forget that it is just the first game in a 18-game league. We forget that it was just one shot that separated the two teams, and that Mumbai are traditionally slow starters. Even if he made a few mistakes as captain, to see the kind of hatred spewed was a new low for Indian fandom.

And may I remind some of these fans that Hardik is a former MI player who has been a part of three IPL-winning teams. The very least one expects from fans is some maturity. As the IPL turns into a mature competition, we need the fans to grow up as well. To abuse and physically assault fellow fans can never be acceptable conduct and it only shows us all in bad light. Whatever it was, it was not sport. Hardik and Rohit both deserve better, and so do the larger cross-section of fans who are all shocked by this level of regressive behaviour. MI and India will need Rohit and Hardik together in the coming months, and the least we can do is be with them and back them, rather than trying to divide them while flinging dirt.   

Hardik Pandya, MI vs GT, IPL 2024 (Image IPL)

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