The Gujarat Titans had an exceptional performance in the 2022 Indian Premier League season, where captain Hardik Pandya played a crucial role in leading the team to victory.
After a hiatus of almost six months from the sport, Hardik emerged as the highest run-getter for the team, propelling them to a convincing triumph in their debut campaign. His outstanding contribution eventually earned him a place in Team India’s limited-overs squad, where he captained the side in all T20Is this year.
Recently, Hardik Pandya disclosed that his journey in the Indian Premier League could have taken a different course. During the previous season, he was on the verge of playing for the Lucknow Super Giants, who were another new team in the league. KL Rahul had been appointed as captain for the team.
Due to his good rapport with Rahul, Pandya revealed that he was almost selected to play for the franchise. However, ultimately, he joined Gujarat Titans and led them to a triumph in their maiden season.
During a podcast with Gaurav Kapoor for the Gujarat Titans, Hardik Pandya mentioned that he had received a call from Lucknow Super Giants, the other new team in the Indian Premier League. He stated that it was led by KL Rahul, whom he knew well. As he was in a crucial phase of his career, it was essential for him to play with someone who understood him.
“I did get a call from the other franchise (Lucknow Super Giants) as well, which was a new franchise in IPL. Someone who I knew (KL Rahul) was leading the team. For me, it was very important, considering the stage at which I was, where I really wanted to play with a person who has known me,” said Hardik Pandya.
However, Hardik Pandya’s decision to join Gujarat Titans took a turn when Ashish Nehra, who later became the team’s head coach, gave him a call. Although the Titans were not yet confirmed to be a part of the IPL, Nehra spoke to Hardik and tried to persuade him to join the team.
Nehra also mentioned that Pandya would lead the side. Despite the situation being uncertain, Pandya trusted Nehra’s judgement and felt that he understood him well.
“But then Ashu pa called me. At that time, the team also didn’t have the permission to be part of the IPL. It was very haywire, things weren’t even settled. He said, ‘I’m going to be the coach. It isn’t fixed yet, but I will be coach’. I was like, Ashu pa, if you weren’t there, I wouldn’t have even considered this because you’re saying this… I’ve always felt you are one person who has understood what I am,” said the Gujarat captain.
The partnership between Hardik Pandya and Ashish Nehra proved to be a successful one for the Gujarat Titans, as they clinched the top spot in the 2022 Indian Premier League and emerged victorious in the final against Rajasthan Royals. In the current season, the Titans have started strongly once again, winning three out of four matches and currently occupying the third spot in the league table.