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"We should respect our players," says Sonu Sood as Hardik Pandya receives backlash from fans over Mumbai Indians captaincy

MUMBAI: Amid the ongoing IPL season, players have been on the radar and the ever-watchful eyes of cricket fans are on them. However, many sportsmen also find themselves at the receiving end of criticism and trolls if they don't perform well or if their teams don't do well.

Seeing players receiving hate on social media, actor Sonu Sood, who never shies away from sharing his opinions, took to X and urged all to respect players.

Without mentioning anyone's name, Sonu wrote, "We should respect our players. Players who made us proud, players who made our country proud. One day you cheer for them, next day you boo them. It's not they, it's us who fail. I love cricket. I love every cricketer who represents my country. Doesn't matter which franchise he plays for. Doesn't matter whether he plays as a Captain or he's the 15th man in a team. They are our Heroes"

The actor's reaction comes after Hardik Pandya received a lot of backlash from the fans as he was appointed as the skipper of MI in place of Rohit Sharma for the 17th edition, which brought an end to Rohit's 11-year stint.

Hardik was released by MI in 2022, he went on to join Gujarat Titans and led them to glory in their debut season. He was brought back by MI last year and announced as the skipper of the five-time IPL champions.

During the pre-season press conference, Hardik and head coach Mark Boucher were questioned about the change in captaincy. In his replies, Hardik didn't address the questions directly, which triggered a backlash on social media.

In their second game of the IPL, Hardik was booed by some sections of fans in Hyderabad, during MI's 31-run defeat against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the highest-scoring game in the history of the tournament.

Australia's batting maestro, Steven Smith has also recommended Mumbai Indians skipper Hardik Pandya to "block out" all the noise and boos that he has received from the fans so far.

"I'd try and just say, to block it out, it's all irrelevant. No one outside knows what you are going through. No one [from outside] is in that change room," Smith said on ESPNcricinfo's TimeOut show.

While talking about his approach to dealing with outside noise, Smith suggested that the reception Hardik received in Hyderabad could have come as a surprise to the 30-year-old.

"Personally, for me, it doesn't bother me. I don't care. I don't pay any attention. 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," Smith said."So is it affecting him [Hardik]? Maybe. It's possible. He probably hasn't experienced that before in, 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," he added.

While still searching for their first victory, MI will return to action in the IPL 2024 against the Rajasthan Royals on Monday at the Wankhede Stadium.


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