Sunil Gavaskar, the legendary batsman, commended Hardik Pandya, acknowledging his remarkable achievements as captain of the Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Pandya has led his team to two consecutive IPL finals, and on Sunday, May 28, Gujarat will face the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the IPL 2023 final in Ahmedabad. Gavaskar expressed his belief that Pandya has grown as a captain since taking on the responsibility for the Gujarat Titans in IPL 2022.
The upcoming final against MS Dhoni’s CSK presents an excellent opportunity for Pandya to demonstrate his rapid development in captaincy. Despite topping the table in both seasons, Gujarat had to take a longer route to reach the final this year as they suffered a loss to CSK in this year’s Qualifier 1. However, Gujarat displayed composure and bounced back strongly, defeating the Mumbai Indians by 61 runs in Qualifier 2 to secure their place in the final.
The Titans’ dominant performance against the Mumbai Indians was highlighted by Shubman Gill’s breathtaking knock of 129 runs off just 60 balls and Mohit Sharma’s impressive 5-wicket haul. The final will witness a captivating battle between master and apprentice as MS Dhoni faces his close friend Hardik Pandya, who has long idolized and admired the Chennai Super Kings captain.
Gavaskar acknowledged Pandya’s open admiration and affection for Dhoni and emphasized that despite their friendly demeanor during the toss, the match would create an entirely different atmosphere. He viewed this final as an excellent opportunity for Pandya to showcase his rapid growth as a player and leader.
Reflecting on Pandya’s captaincy journey, Gavaskar recognized the transformation from an exciting and excitable cricketer to a composed leader, reminiscent of Dhoni’s influence. Pandya’s ability to create a happy and cohesive team environment has played a significant role in the Titans’ success, drawing parallels to the atmosphere within the Chennai Super Kings.
Gavaskar also credited Ashish Nehra, the head coach of the Gujarat Titans, for fostering a light and joyful atmosphere in the dressing room. He praised Nehra’s exceptional cricketing acumen and highlighted his invaluable contributions to the team’s tactical approach.
While the Chennai Super Kings have a wealth of experience, having reached their 10th IPL final and faced high-pressure situations in the past, Gavaskar believes that the Gujarat Titans will provide a formidable challenge to MS Dhoni’s men on Sunday. Gujarat’s dominance throughout the league stages, finishing with 20 points, three more than the Chennai Super Kings, indicates their championship-winning form. Gavaskar emphasized that CSK should expect a real fight from the Titans, who have consistently played like champions and earned their place in the final.