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Villain during IPL 2024, Hardik Pandya returns to Mumbai as T20 WC hero; thanks fans for all the love (WATCH)

Hardik Pandya's remarkable comeback in Indian cricket, from injury to triumph, amidst fan controversy and emotional highs, culminated in celebratory scenes at Wankhede Stadium.

Villain during IPL 2024, Hardik Pandya returns to Mumbai as T20 WC hero; thanks fans for all the love (WATCH) snt
First Published Jul 4, 2024, 10:32 PM IST

In the realm of comeback tales, Hardik Pandya's stands among the greatest in Indian cricket history. Few players have traversed from the depths of adversity to the pinnacle of success as swiftly as he did in just a few months.

Pandya's journey back from an ankle injury sustained during the ODI World Cup was marked by setbacks and challenges, but also by unwavering resilience and determination. Once a stalwart for the formidable Mumbai Indians, he temporarily moved to the Gujarat Titans before his triumphant return to Mumbai, a comeback that wasn't initially embraced by all.

Also read: Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and others dance their hearts out as T20 WC champions honoured in Mumbai (WATCH)

His reinstatement in the Mumbai Indians squad, replacing the revered 'Mumbaicha Raja', Rohit Sharma, sparked controversy among fans, highlighting the emotional currents that accompany such a remarkable resurgence.

There's a perspective that suggests IPL fans differ from those in international cricket, and Hardik Pandya seemed to bear the brunt of this divide. Amidst these challenges, there were unconfirmed reports of a rift with his wife, Natasa Stankovic.

Pandya faced a barrage of boos and heckles from fans when he captained the Mumbai Indians in their season opener at Ahmedabad. Despite being a Mumbai Indians stalwart and now their captain, Pandya encountered the toughest reception from fans during his first home match at the Wankhede Stadium.

Just a few matches later, during the toss against the Rajasthan Royals, commentator and former Indian cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar appealed to the crowd at Wankhede to show restraint amid renewed booing directed at Pandya.

In the last league match here, Rohit Sharma received a standing ovation from the crowd, with many believing it could be his final appearance. However, as Rohit left the field amidst cheers, the atmosphere quickly turned to loud boos when Hardik Pandya walked in to bat.

Yet, those moments were relegated to the past as Pandya recently experienced a triumphant return. He was greeted by deafening cheers from a sea of fans, filling both Wankhede Stadium and Marine Drive to capacity.

"See you soon, Wankhede," wrote the World Cup champion as he posted his selfie with the trophy before the parade in Mumbai.

Inside the stadium, chants of 'Hardik... Hardik' echoed loudly. Earlier, he had been among the first to proudly display the trophy on his shoulder at the airport, and at his beloved 'homeground', Pandya was the first to showcase the coveted trophy to thousands of eagerly waiting fans.

Amid fears of chaos and stampedes, the atmosphere was instead filled with celebration as everyone joined in cheering for India's heroes, including Pandya. He participated in the open bus parade for hours before arriving at Wankhede Stadium.

Also read: Video of the day: Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli lift T20 WC trophy together during India's victory parade (WATCH)

During captain Rohit Sharma's speech, when he highlighted Suryakumar Yadav's crucial catch off Pandya in the final over, the cheers from Wankhede were thunderous and unified, chanting 'Hardik... Hardik'.

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