IPL 2022: Hardik Pandya, the new Captain Cool

KOLKATA: Has Team India got its new Captain Cool in Hardik Pandya? Many would be seeing it that way from the manner the Gujarat Titans skipper operated in Qualifier 1 match against Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens here on Tuesday. Chasing a stiff 189-run victory target, the skipper led from the front stitching together a 106-run unbroken fourth-wicket stand with David Miller in 61 balls to take his side home. The all-rounder did speak about the influence of MS Dhoni, under whom he made his international debut, on his career.

“Obviously Mahi bhai has played a big role in my life. He is a dear brother, a dear friend, and family to me. So, for me, I have learnt a lot of good things from him,” he said at the post-match press conference on Tuesday. Much like Dhoni, Hardik never seemed to be panicking by looking at the scoreboard and paced his innings quite well. In spite of being known as a hard-hitting batter, Pandya played a rather controlled innings, hitting just five boundaries and not a single six in his unbeaten 40-run innings.

Talking about his approach, Pandya said “I’ve started to balance things in my life. Even before the captaincy as well, I always made sure that I approach all situations in a cool-headed way. Generally, you make better decisions that way. For me, in my life and in my cricketing journey, it was important to give that 10-second extra rather than rushing in.” The 28-year-old tried to stay calm throughout the chase.

“It was very simple for me. I have been in this kind of situation before. I try to make sure that I’m neutral and calm, which helps to make the right decisions. If you are too excited sometimes or too hyped up, you tend to make wrong decisions where you don’t need to,” he stated.

The skipper did give due credit to his teammates Miller and Rashid Khan. “For me, it was important to create partnerships and be there till the end. When Miller came, I had to make sure that I kind of take pressure off him, and score quick runs and you saw what Miller did after he got set,” he added.