Hardik's staggering revelation on how he defied Nehra's instruction in IPL final – Hindustan Times

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Gujarat Titans captain Hardik Pandya enjoyed a stellar year in 2022; after being away from the Indian team for months following the T20 World Cup the year prior, Hardik made a return as captain for the Titans and led the side to the Indian Premier League in its maiden appearance. Following the victory, the star all-rounder made a comeback to the Indian team and became an integral part of the side in the limited-overs formats.
It was also Hardik’s maiden season as skipper in the IPL, which made the feat even more special. The all-rounder worked with head coach Ashish Nehra as well as India’s World Cup-winning former coach Gary Kirsten in his first season and while Nehra had been a strong presence in the dugout, Hardik revealed that there was one instance during the final of the season when he went against Nehra’s decision.
The GT head coach could often be seen assisting Hardik with key captaincy calls – even in the 2023 season – but Hardik stated how he denied a direct instruction from Nehra during Rajasthan Royals’ batting innings.
“The only time I went against his wish was in the final. Rashid Khan generally never bowls his third over around the 12-over mark. I always gave him 14th and 16th over, I always believed Rashid is at his best when people target him. When people play him around, he may take wickets but Rashid is my ace. I have to use the ace most effectively,” Hardik began as he narrated the story in the Gujarat Titans’ podcast on YouTube.
“In that game, Devdutt Padikkal was around 2 runs off 9 balls. He’d played out an entire over of mine quietly. Rashid had already bowled 3 overs. Generally we never finish his quota around the 12th over. I saw the scoreboard and realised they were 80/2. Sanju and Yashasvi were out, I think. But I knew they had one batter short, that was very important for me to know. That was the style of their play last year, and it was a potential weakness. We couldn’t exploit that weakness in Qualiifier, Buttler hit us. But we had made other inroads that time.
“Since it was the final, I thought we could be more aggressive in exploiting that weakness. Ashu Pa gestured to me to bowl Sai Kishore. I called Sai, but then I stopped. I look at the score… ’11 overs are down, I’ve bowled 2, and given away 6. Buttler has scored 35 run and he’s batting at a-run-a-ball, Devdutt is 2 off 9. This is the over they will have to target. If a left-handed Padikkal targets Sai and hits two sixes, he may get back to rhythm. What seems like a 150-odd score may become 170′. In final, those 20 extra runs would make big difference. I knew Buttler also wants to open up, so this over was important,” Hardik explained.
The all-rounder, then, stated that he actually sent Sai Kishore back, and opted to end Rashid Khan’s four-over quota. The move worked in GT’s favour, as Rashid dismissed Padikkal.
“I asked Sai to wait, and gave ball to Rashid. He bowled a quiet over, and got Devdutt’s wicket. Buttler was planning to explode, but after losing Devdutt, and playing one batter short, Buttler instead of playing his natural game continued to be in his shell. Because of that, he became tentative and eventually got out. For me, that was the only time I went against his wishes,” Hardik said.
“He said Sai Kishore and I said, no. Rashid will bowl.”
When asked if he saw how Nehra reacted when Hardik defied his instruction, the GT captain said, “No, I was too engrossed in the game, I’m sure he knew what I was going.”
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