Former Indian cricketer Manoj Tiwary foresees a potentially rough reception for Mumbai Indians’ captain, Hardik Pandya, during their first home game at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Tiwary suggested that the Mumbai fans, particularly those loyal to Rohit Sharma, might not offer a warm welcome to Hardik when Mumbai Indians face off against Rajasthan Royals in what promises to be a highly anticipated match on April 1. Nonetheless, Tiwary expressed his confidence in Hardik’s ability to handle such circumstances, citing the captain’s temperament.

Before their inaugural home game at the iconic stadium, Mumbai Indians are slated to clash with the SunRisers Hyderabad at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on March 27, Wednesday.

Hardik Pandya’s maiden outing as Mumbai Indians’ skipper didn’t go according to plan, as the five-time champions continued their longstanding tradition of stumbling in their opening match. MI endured a heart-wrenching defeat by a margin of six runs against the Gujarat Titans at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Gujarat. The newly appointed captain, Hardik, faced scrutiny for his decisions and his team’s inability to seal the victory despite needing 19 runs from the final over. Mumbai, seemingly in control of the chase, suffered a dramatic collapse, failing to chase down 43 runs in the last five overs.

Adding to the spectacle was the sight of Hardik being jeered by the spectators in the stands. The fans also voiced dissatisfaction with Hardik’s strategic field placements, notably positioning Rohit at the boundary line instead of his usual position within the ring. Prior to this, a segment of MI supporters expressed disappointment over Rohit’s replacement as captain, leading to a noticeable decline in the franchise’s social media following.

Speaking to the PTI news agency, Manoj remarked on the potential reception Hardik might receive in Mumbai, emphasizing the unexpected shift in captaincy from Rohit to Hardik, which didn’t sit well with many fans.

Despite the challenges, Manoj commended Hardik for maintaining his composure and nerve amid the criticism, indicating strong temperament.

Looking ahead, Manoj stressed the importance for Hardik to tune out external distractions and focus on his performance, especially with the T20 World Cup looming on the horizon from June 1. He emphasized that Hardik’s performance would be crucial for his inclusion in the Indian team, given his stature as the top-ranked all-rounder, highlighting the necessity for him to be in top form.