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Is Hardik Pandya and Mumbai Indians' IPL 2024 season already at tipping point?

Three matches in a little over a week in a tournament that goes on for two months is hardly enough to gauge the prospects of a team in the Indian Premier League.

But for Mumbai Indians and their new captain Hardik Pandya, the horizon looks dark and gloomy.

The franchise is famous for starting poorly, gathering speed only later in the tournament. But that was when they had their ducks in a row. This year, the setbacks started well before the tournament began and have only continued.

On Monday, Rajasthan Royals beat Mumbai Indians by six wickets with almost five overs to spare in the first match of the 2024 IPL season season at Mumbai's home Wankhede Stadium.

It was a critical match for Mumbai and the toughest assignment for Pandya, who had seen fans jeer, boo and, sadly, abuse him in the previous two games upset over the removal of Rohit Sharma as captain.

If there's one thing you should know about this team, we never give up. We'll keep fighting, we'll keep going.

Well before the tournament started, it was clear Pandya would face the wrath of Mumbai and Rohit fans, who had made their feelings clear on social media for months. Even senior Mumbai players had maintained their distance from the drama on social media, with no one saying a word on the manner in which Rohit was unceremoniously dumped and Pandya brought in from Gujarat Titans.

A few cursory "we have decided to move on" statements from the Mumbai Indians coaching staff was nowhere near enough to quell the anger. Fans waited for the matches to begin and have targeted Pandya, in particular, with vengeance.

On Monday, Pandya was booed at the toss. TV presenter Sanjay Manjrekar admonished the crowd, asking them to "behave". Former England