‘Block it out, it’s all…’: Steve Smith on Hardik Pandya facing boos | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: Australian star batter Steve Smith has offered some advice to Hardik Pandya amid the relentless jeers and boos the new Mumbai Indians skipper is facing from spectators during the IPL. Smith urged Pandya to simply “block out” the negative noise, emphasising that such reactions are “all irrelevant.”
Hardik, who took over the captaincy from five-time IPL-winning captain Rohit Sharma this season, faced a challenging start to his leadership tenure as Mumbai Indians suffered consecutive defeats.Adding to the pressure, Pandya was met with disapproval from fans at both Ahmedabad and Hyderabad, the venues of MI’s first two matches. The discontent among spectators was evidently fueled by dissatisfaction with Rohit’s removal from the captaincy.
“I’d try and just say, to block it out, it’s all irrelevant,” Smith, who has faced abuse from fans across the world for his role in the 2018 ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town, told ESPNcricinfo.
“No one outside knows what you are going through. No one (from outside) is in that change room.”
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Smith, who himself endured being labelled a “cheat” by fans during the 2019 ODI World Cup in England, empathises with Hardik’s current situation. He believes that the barrage of abuse Pandya is facing from his own Indian fans at home will likely come as a significant surprise to him.
“Personally, for me, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t care. I don’t pay any attention,” said Smith, who had to resign as Rajasthan Royals captain in 2018 after the ball-tampering scandal.
“You know it’s all white noise, but certainly players do hear things and everyone’s entitled to their own emotions and how they respond to those.
“So is it affecting him (Hardik)? Maybe. It’s possible. He probably hasn’t experienced that before in any walk of life.
“So it’s natural, I suppose, and particularly being in India and a star Indian player, to be in that position where some fans are booing you, it’s certainly something he wouldn’t have experienced.”
Hardik’s journey in the IPL has seen its share of twists and turns. Despite leading the Gujarat Titans to an IPL title triumph in their inaugural season in 2022, Hardik found himself back in the ranks of the Mumbai Indians last November, following a monetary trade.
His subsequent appointment as captain, replacing the revered Rohit, stirred discontent among fans loyal to the Indian captain.
“Hardik is in the middle of a challenging time, losing the first two games of their IPL season. It’s a big one for him,” said Smith, who had replaced MS Dhoni as captain of now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiant in 2017.
“He’s filling big shoes with Rohit Sharma, who’s been the most successful captain (with Dhoni) in IPL history, lifting five titles, and it hasn’t started well for him.”
MI will face Rajasthan Royals on April 1 next at home and Smith is waiting to find out how Hardik is received by the local fans at the Wankhede Stadium.
“So he’s under a little bit of pressure at the moment and it’ll be interesting to see what the reception is like in their first home game at Wankhede in a couple of days’ time.
“We have heard a few boos going around at the grounds, which… that’s been disappointing from my aspect. But I’m intrigued to see what the reception is like in Mumbai. We know how big a star Rohit is and how much he is loved inside that stadium.”
(With PTI inputs)


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