Hardik Pandya Could Become First Indian To Achieve This IPL Feat – ClutchPoints

Gujarat Titans captain Hardik Pandya could emulate MS Dhoni in IPL if his team succeeds in defeating RR tonight.
Pawan Atri
Hardik Pandya has already surprised almost everyone by leading the Gujarat Titans (GT) to the Indian Premier League (IPL) final and on Sunday, when the Ahmedabad-based franchise will face the Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the title clash, the 28-year-old cricketer would be on the cusp of history.
His mentor and “brother” MS Dhoni is the only skipper in IPL's history to lift the coveted trophy at home, having won the crown at home for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) back in 2011. Hardik Pandya could emulate the legendary India captain if his team succeeds in defeating RR tonight.
Besides, Hardik Pandya could become just the fourth Indian captain to lay his hands on the IPL trophy in the past decade and a half after the earlier title-winning heroics of Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir, and Rohit Sharma.
Hardik, however, would want to become the first Indian skipper to claim the IPL title on debut.
The great Shane Warne, who passed away earlier this year, clinched the coveted crown in his debut season as Rajasthan captain. Warne though was a foreigner, an Australian who was known for his aggressive brand of cricket, something Hardik Pandya has also been associated with.
If one analyses Hardik's captaincy carefully, one could very well find similarities with at least three IPL skippers – Warne, Dhoni, and Rohit.
While the Dhoni effect on him is for all to see as the GT captain has wowed the cricket world with his attitude, temperament, and class, both as a skipper and as an all-rounder, never getting bogged down by the immense pressure of leading a side in a tournament like the IPL.
Even his batting has flourished under pressure and he's currently the team's highest run-getter with 453 runs in 14 matches.
It won't be an exaggeration to say that Pandya has led Gujarat the same way Dhoni guided a side of complete rookies to lift India's lone T20 World Cup title in South Africa in 2007.
Like Dhoni, Hardik Pandya has been a motivational figure in the Gujarat Titans dressing room as he has backed them to play their natural game in all situations.
The players who were on the verge of heading towards obscurity have found their midas touch under Hardik and have turned into match-winners in the games they have played so far in the competition.
The likes of Wriddhiman Saha and David Miller had become outcasts in the IPL and no team or captain was willing to back them as they thought the duo was well past their prime.
But Hardik Pandya always believed in their ability and knew that they could come good if given the time and the right position in the team. Look how Miller has taken the tournament by storm.
For a player who bats in the lower middle-order, Miller's numbers are simply outstanding as he has already scored 449 runs with a strike rate of over 141 this season.
Hardik Pandya shares some similar attributes with his ex-Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma as well.
Like Rohit, the Surat-born player likes to keep everything as simple as possible on the ground.
The current India captain is known for his adaptability, having gone from a middle-order batsman to the top across all formats of the game.
Hardik Pandya, on the other hand, isn't a lightning-quick bowler. But he has very well understood his role in the team and knows that his bowling helps his side in maintaining a perfect balance of batters and spinners and pacers.
That's why instead of opting for an extra bowler, Hardik himself has taken the burden of an extra speedster and has continued to open the bowling for Gujarat Titans throughout the tournament.
There won't be any debate over the fact that Hardik has improved in leaps and bounds as a batter in this edition of the IPL, having taken the role of a senior batsman with elan, something Rohit has done remarkably well for Mumbai over the years.
Coming back to his qualities that could be compared with not just Warne but Virat Kohli as well is his aggression on the field.
By nature, Hardik Pandya is a player who believes in taking the opposition head-on, be it while fielding or batting. It is something that has kept him in good stead since the beginning of his career and is keeping him in fine shape in the ongoing IPL as well.
He has been rightly dubbed as the “best captain” of IPL 2022 with ex-India batter Mohammad Kaif heaping rich praise on him. He particularly impressed him by staying calm in pressure moments.
“On every ball, the guy (Pandya) stays at mid-off and chats to the bowlers, so much synchronization, so much conversation, you could talk about openness or role. In this IPL, there was no great leader than Hardik Pandya, who led his team to victory,” Kaif told IPL broadcaster Star Sports this week.
About the Author
Pawan Atri is a writer for ClutchPoints.
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