Former India head coach Ravi Shastri feels that the added captaincy of Gujarat Titans has helped Hardik Pandya grow as a cricketer. The 28-year-old took a short sabbatical from cricket to work on his fitness after 2021 T20 World Cup and he returned to competitive cricket in IPL 2022 where he was named captain of the new franchise Gujarat Titans. The flamboyant all-rounder guided Gujarat to title victory on their debut season.
Shastri, who has worked with Pandya during his tenure as Team India head coach, said that the all-rounder was in shock after Mumbai Indians didn’t retain him ahead of the auction.
“It shocked him when he was not retained by Mumbai Indians,” Shastri said on commentary during India vs England second ODI at Lord’s.
Hardik started his journey with Mumbai Indians in 2015 and won four Indian Premier League titles with them. He enjoyed great success with five-time champions with both and ball which paved way for his inclusion in the Indian team.
However, Mumbai decided to retain Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav and Kieron Pollard ahead of the auction. After getting snubbed by MI, Hardik signed for Gujarat Titans and was straightaway named the captain of the side.
“It was tough… MI had Ishan Kishan, Rohit Sharna, Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav, and Hardik Pandya so they had to pick three out of those five. Ishan Kishan was obviously picked in the auction,” Shastri said.
Shastri further said that the added responsibility helped Pandya as a player as he performed exceedingly well as a captain in his debut season.
“He was picked by Gujarat Titans, where he was given the extra responsibility of captaining, which did him a world of good. When given responsibility, he’s a completely different cricket as opposed to just batting and fielding,” he added.
The 28-year-old took the responsibility on his own shoulders and promoted himself up in the batting order at Number 3 and 4 to provide balance in the line-up. He scored 487 runs in 15 matches at a sublime average of 487. He also attained bowling fitness and claimed eight wickets in the title-winning campaign.