Former India fast bowler, Ashish Nehra, who is also the head coach of Gujarat Titans said he did not have any doubt about the captaincy skills of Hardik Pandya and that the all-rounder’s rich IPL experience made him a fine leader for the side in IPL 2022. Nehra said that there had been a lot of discussion around Hardik’s captaincy after Gujarat Titans lifted the IPL 2022 trophy in their first-ever season in the tournament but that he always knew about the potential that the flamboyant all-rounder as a leader.
Eyebrows were raised when Gujarat Titans decided to appoint Hardik as their captain despite the all-rounder missing competitive cricket for more than 6 months ahead of the tournament. However, Hardik silenced all the criticism and led the newly formed franchise to become the champions. Hardik also batted higher-up in the middle-order, and ended up scoring 487 runs and picking up 8 wickets in 15 matches as he shrugged off injury concerns.
Hardik also led the Indian team in T20Is after the IPL 2022 success and now is being looked at by the BCCI top brass as a potential successor to Rohit Sharma in limited-overs cricket.
During a recent chat on Jio Cinema, Ashish Nehra said, “Hardik Pandya, at times, people see him as a new captain, struggling from injuries. But when it comes to his captaincy, the kind of ability he has with the bat, and the ball, the kind of persona he has, he is a very positive person. I never doubted that (his captaincy). The kind of aura he has shown, if you ask me as a coach, you can look at a player and tell what he is thinking, Hardik Pandya is a very positive guy.”
He further added, “He is a stable guy, he is a confident guy. He knows how to operate in IPL. Maybe, he is not someone who has done a lot of captaincies but he has been part of the IPL. He was a very important part of Mumbai Indians, who have won many titles. He was there. There was no shortage of IPL experience. Everybody has to start somewhere, nobody is a born captain. And you try to mold them. As support staff, we were trying to help him as much as possible.”
Gujarat Titans will be looking to replicate their performance in the 2022 season, having retained the core of the team. However, Nehra said both he and Hardik are not complacent ahead of the upcoming season.
Ashish Nehra explained, “Even now, me as a coach, or Hardik as captain, we have always tried to learn. We look forward to trying out new things. The moment you think you know everything, the first year we won, that would be the start of the end. Hardik Pandya, apart from the results, has been phenomenal.”