Justin Langer
Justin Langer

Justin Langer, the head coach of Lucknow Super Giants (LSG), after his first stint in IPL, said that he couldn’t make sense of the MS Dhoni fandom in IPL 2024. He also said that hero worship in India is on the next level.

MS Dhoni has been the flavor of the IPL season, and while the great man did not have a fairytale ending with CSK failing to make the IPL 2024 playoffs, there is no disputing that MS Dhoni fans dominated IPL 2024, just as they did in IPL 2023. While CSK won IPL 2023, Dhoni chose to play another season rather than end his IPL career on a high note.

CSK’s away games this season felt like home games. Every stadium in India was painted yellow, with a sea of MS Dhoni No.7 jerseys. And Justin Langer witnessed for the first time, the phenomenon of MS Dhoni fandom.

“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. And look, I felt it when we played in India before as a player, particularly with Sachin Tendulkar. Then, when I was coaching with [Australia], Virat Kohli, and MS Dhoni, But when you get over there, it’s unbelievable,” Langer said on the BBC Sport podcast – Stumped.

Under Justin Langer’s guidance, LSG failed to qualify for the playoffs in IPL 2024, despite doing so in 2022 and 2023.

I saw both sides of it: Justin Langer on seeing Hardik Pandya booed by MI fans

However, Langer also said that there is a flip side to hero worship, which he observed during the IPL with Hardik Pandya, the new Mumbai Indians, being booed by the Indian audience.

“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,” added Langer.

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