Former South Africa skipper AB de Villiers is one of the few in the cricketing fraternity who is supporting Hardik Pandya's return to Mumbai Indians as the team captain, replacing veteran Rohit Sharma.
MI's decision to remove Rohit and appoint Pandya as their captain for the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) season shocked everyone.
Fans of Rohit and MI have been venting out their anger on social media ever since the announcement was made on Friday.
Rohit afterall, is one of only two IPL captains to have won the league a record 5 times along with Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni. MI also clinched the Champions League T20 title under Rohit in 2011.
The prodigal son returns to negative reactions
Pandya spent 7 seasons at MI under Rohit and won the title four times before he shifted to Gujarat Titans in 2021. De Villiers is therefore, surprised with all the negative reactions from MI fans towards Pandya's comeback and taking over the captaincy from Rohit.
"To be fair to Hardik, he was also a Mumbai boy by for a long time. He was always Mumbai boy from the start of his IPL career. He was with him when they lifted some trophies. I get your point that Surya and Bumrah sort of stayed loyal to the brand when Hardik decided to move on, if you wanna say that. But he's back," AB de Villiers said on his YouTube channel.
"And I think I find it quite strange that the reaction was pretty negative. I have been reading posts that said Mumbai Indians social platform lost like 1 million followers and people are upset," he further added.
ABD rallies behind MI captain Pandya
Pandya was bought by Gujarat Titans and appointed the captain. Pandya won the title in his debut season as an IPL captain in 2022 before finishing as the runners-up this year after losing to Dhoni's CSK in the IPL 2023 final.
"You should be happy about him coming back. I know he played two IPL seasons at the Gujarat Titans and won a trophy. They made the final in another. And now he wants to come back as a more experienced player, a more experienced captain.
"So I think you guys (fans) give him a bit of a boost, welcome him back in the Mumbai Indians camp. I'm pretty sure if he lifts a trophy with the rest of the team, you guys are not gonna have a problem with that," ABD concluded.