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Justin Langer Reflects On The Overhyped Hero Worship In India
By CricShots - May 24, 2024 5:45 pm
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MS Dhoni has undeniably been the focal point of this IPL season. Despite Chennai Super Kings (CSK) failing to secure a spot in the IPL 2024 playoffs, the fervour surrounding the legendary cricketer reached unprecedented heights. Just like in IPL 2023, MS Dhoni enthusiasts dominated the scene, showcasing unwavering support for their idol.

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Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni

Despite the absence of a fairy-tale ending, Dhoni opted to extend his IPL journey, backing the new captain, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and battling through a persistent injury throughout IPL 2024. The sheer magnitude of MSD’s fan base, coupled with his unwavering commitment to the team’s cause, elevated the adulation to new heights this year.

Every away game CSK played felt like a home fixture, as stadiums across India were awash in yellow, adorned with countless No. 7 MS Dhoni jerseys. For first-time IPL coach Justin Langer, the phenomenon surrounding MS Dhoni was a spectacle beyond comprehension. While Langer had previously witnessed hero worship in India as a player facing off against Sachin Tendulkar, experiencing the Dhoni frenzy firsthand was simply ‘unbelievable’ for the former Australian coach.

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“It’s extraordinary. I heard about it first; then we played them [CSK] twice. They came to Lucknow, and our capacity crowd [in Ekana Stadium] is about 50,000, and honestly, there would have been 48,000 MS Dhoni number seven shirts. I couldn’t believe it, and then we went to CSK, and there wasn’t 98%; there was 100%. And it’s unbelievable. The hero worship in India is unbelievable,” Justin Langer expressed during a conversation on the weekly cricket podcast from BBC Sport – Stumped.

Justin Langer
Justin Langer

Reflecting on his past experiences with cricketing legends like Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli, Langer emphasized the unparalleled nature of the Dhoni phenomenon. However, amidst the adoration, Langer also shed light on the flip side of hero worship, citing the instance of Hardik Pandya, who faced criticism from Indian crowds while leading the Mumbai Indians.

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“And I saw the flip side of it as well because Rohit Sharma is a huge hero in India as India captain. And what happened with Mumbai Indians this year… Hardik Pandya took over as the captain from Rohit Sharma. The much-loved Rohit Sharma. And it was really sad to watch. You know, he got booed every game by the Indian crowds. He’s the vice-captain of the Indian T20I squad. So, I saw both sides of it. I learned this from Jonty Rhodes and Morne Morkel, who’d been to the IPL before. Rather than getting upset by it, go with the flow,” Justin Langer concluded.