Hardik Pandya is a happy man. Devoid of any captaincy experience, he was made the Gujarat Titans skipper at the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022. And now, his team is the first to enter the IPL 2022 playoffs. They sealed their place in the top four with two matches to spare. In 12 games, they gave nine wins and 18 points. The victory over LSG was all the more sweeter after GT suffered hiccups in their last two games against Punjab Kings and Mumbai Indians.
After the win over LSG, Pandya revealed the message that was sent across to the GT side during the match against LSG, which they won by a massive 62-run margin.
“Really proud of the boys. When we started this journey together, we obviously believed in ourselves, but before the 14th game to have qualified, it’s a great effort and really proud of us. Last game, I spoke to the boys (after the loss against MI), that we thought that the game was already over before it was over,” Hardik Pandya said after the match.
“That was a learning which we took. I think all the games that we’ve won, we were always under pressure. The last game was the only game that we were ahead of the game and we knew the kind of batters we have and we’ll finish it off. But it did not happen. That was the talk of the group. Even in this game (against LSG) when they were eight down, I said, ‘Let’s be ruthless. This game is beautiful. If it’s not over, it’s not over. So let’s make sure that we finish it. If they’re down, let’s keep them down, get this done and relax post-game.'”
He further added how GT made a comeback despite losing their last two games. “I always feel when you lose a game like we did the last game, in a group, what is important is that you believe ‘we have won games as a team and we lose games as a team.’ We did not do what we were supposed to do and we know messed it up a little, but we will mess it up as a team. How we take credit like we say as a team, ‘We won,’ we’ll make sure that if we lose, we’ll say, ‘We lost,’ instead of saying, ‘This guy, that guy.’ We kept our laughter too. It’s important to make sure the vibe is always there,” he said.
Pandya lauded left-arm spinner Sai Kishore, who took two wickets for seven runs playing his first match of the IPL 2022.
“Sai, I’ve rated him as a left-arm spinner quite high. He’s quite a technical bowler. Because of his height and his pace, he gets a little extra from the wicket. Because of the fast bowling attack, we were not able to make him play. But looking at this wicket, we thought if we can add a spinner with the right-handers, it’ll make a big difference,” he said.
Despite GT getting out for a low total of 144/4, Pandya was always confident of a win. “The way everyone batted, especially Shubman, I felt with 145 we were in the game. Their bowling, I think they were a little too short. A little fuller length was working,” . So that was the chat in the group as well. The only two shots they can score runs are cover drive, if you bowl really full, or if you give width. The bowlers did everything they’re supposed to do and we ticked all the boxes,” he said.
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