The 2022 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) witnessed the transformation of all-rounder Hardik Pandya into a title-winning T20 captain. Making his captaincy debut in the previous season with the Gujarat-based franchise, Pandya not only guided GT to title glory in their first IPL season, but the star all-rounder also became an integral part of India’s leadership group. A year later, India’s white-ball vice-captain Pandya is on the cusp of repeating the historic feats of MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma.
Pandya’s Gujarat Titans can become the third team to win back-to-back titles in the history of IPL. Standing in Hardik’s way are Chennai Super Kings, who are eyeing a record-equalling fifth title this season under the leadership of legendary skipper – MS Dhoni. Over the years, Pandya has learnt a lot of cricketing nuances from CSK captain Dhoni. Sharing his views ahead of IPL 2023 final between GT and CSK, legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar issued a noteworthy statement about Pandya’s captaincy and his camaraderie with Dhoni.
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“He (Hardik) has been very open about his admiration and affection for MSD, just like all those who have followed MSD’s career. When they go out to the toss, they will be very friendly and smiling all that. But when it comes to the match, it will be a completely different atmosphere. It’s a very good opportunity from Hardik Pandya to show how quickly he has learned,” Gavaskar told Star Sports.
Former India skipper Dhoni will feature in his 11th IPL final on Sunday at the Narendra Modi Stadium. GT skipper Pandya has contested five IPL finals in his glittering career. Interestingly, Pandya has never lost an IPL final. With 325 runs in 16 games, Pandya is the second-highest run-getter for GT this season.
“When he was captaining for the first time last year, nobody knew what to expect because he has been one of the most exciting and excitable cricketer as well. But that excitable part, we have seen over the last year. The calmness that he brings into the team is reminiscent of MSD. This is a happy team, which is exactly what we see with CSK as well. Hardik has to take a lot of credit for that,” Gavaskar observed.
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