Not many were sure of the prospect of Hardik Pandya leading Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League 2022. While Gujarat’s team did look lopsided, the main concerns were whether the injury-ridden Pandya would be able to withstand the two months of non-stop action. His recurring back injury had forced him to miss a heavy chunk of the international cricket. 

After being consistently overlooked by the national side, it was always going to be a make-or-break season for Pandya. Fast forward two months and he has cleared all those doubts. Not only did Pandya see an impressive season with both bat and ball, but he also led what was touted as the weakest unit to the IPL title in its first season. 

Read More:Fans Hail Hardik Pandya As Gujarat Titans Win IPL 2022 In Their Maiden Season 

Hardik Pandya saved his best for the summit clash, in which he choked Rajasthan Royals with his three-wicket haul before scoring a responsible 34 to set up the foundation for victory. He finished the season with 487 runs and claimed eight wickets. 

Hardik’s ability to maintain his composure as a captain came as a big surprise, as he backed his players to the hilt, and was smart and judicious in utilising his bowlers. 

Not too long ago, Pandya was banned by the BCCI for his sexist and racist remarks on Koffee With Karan. The episode premiered when Hardik was preparing for an ODI series in Australia, and the all-rounder was sent back home. 

In an interview with Indian Express, Hardik Pandya’s ex-coach Jitender Sharma talked about how Pandya had many sleepless nights following the incident. Sharma then asked the all-rounder to meet him in the stadium the next morning.

“He hadn’t slept the whole night, na?,” the coach asked another person in the room. “Tension nahin lena hai (Don’t take tension). You will get back to playing for India very soon. Jo ho gaya, voh ho gaya (what’s done is done), no use worrying about it. Come tomorrow to Reliance stadium. Now, smile.”

Jitender Sharma also booked the badminton court to re-instill the ‘competitive juices’ in Pandya, and made him realise that he is born to play cricket, not to appear on chat shows. 

The coach recalled the promise Pandya made and how he’s kept his word. “Coach, you will not hear any negative thing about me after this. He has held that word. His father would have been so proud today,” said Jitender Sharma.

Featured Image Credit: Instagram/ @Hardik Pandya