With his elevation to captain India for the two-game T20I series against Ireland, the rise of leader Hardik Pandya has been meteoric. In IPL 2022, Pandya was the gel that held the Gujarat Titans together in their trophy chase in their debut season.
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Throughout the tournament, Pandya led Gujarat from the front, taking the charge with the bat at number three or four, something he had barely been able to do in his previous Mumbai Indians franchise.
Pandya was the anchor Gujarat needed with the bat before unleashing their stroke game late innings, amassing 487 over 15 innings at an average of 44.27 and a strike rate of 131.26. With the ball too, he occasionally featured, his 3/17 spell in the final at home to Ahmedabad proving to be a game-winner.
Mohammad Kaif was also at the Narendra Modi Stadium on the day of the IPL 2022 final and was impressed with what he saw from Pandya the captain. “I was on the pitch for the final in Ahmedabad. I saw him captain live. His placement on the pitch was exceptional. He is also a good coach because the way his players behaved under pressure told the story of good vibes around the team.
“He’s supportive of his players; he would stand midway and talk to his players, especially the bowlers when they felt the pressure in terms of bowling in the death overs. If you ask me personally, I was very impressed by his captaincy There are a lot of teams that play IPL in year one (and) haven’t done what Hardik did by winning the IPL title as captain in year one,” said Kaif during a virtual interaction organized by Sony Sports.
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Kaif, who has represented India in 125 ODIs and 13 Tests, sees Pandya’s promotion to captain India as a reward for captaining and proving his leadership qualities as skipper of the Gujarat Titans at the IPL 2022.
“When he was captain, what I saw as a player was in Hardik Pandya, he ticked most of the boxes as captain. Because he won the draw and saw the conditions, he was perfect (with his decision making). Sometimes he hit first, he chased the target, giving the roles to the batters as well as the bowlers. Also, his form was very crucial, he hit three, four ; going on the power play and hitting until the end apart from a few pitches.
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“Hardik did a good job with the captain and if you see with the Gujarat Titans you could tell they weren’t the strongest team after the auction. Few other franchises had done good job. But it’s about how you play and play on the pitch on that day. You want to pick the best eleven to win the series (against Ireland). Hardik can do that, he has good made for Gujarat, said Kaif.