There’s something about Hardik Pandya and Gujarat Titans. Everytime you expect them to come short, someone steps up and gets the job done. The leadership group must be doing something right that the franchise has won 14 of its 18 games since its inception last year.
Talking about his approach to captaincy, Pandya said: “It is my instinct. I like to back myself. I'd rather back myself and fall down than take others' decisions. I'd rather land the first punch than take the first punch.
“We tell the boys to enjoy themselves there. It helps you take the right decisions. Someone's putting their hand up. We have spoken about this. Taking care of each other is more important.”
Chasing a target of 163 against Delhi Capitals at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Tuesday (April 4), the Titans were reduced to 54/3 by the end of six overs but that’s when Sai Sudharsan (48-ball 62*) stood up and finished the game for his team.
The young left-hander found good support from Vijay Shankar (23-ball 29) and David Miller (16-ball 31*) and only left the field once GT got over the line. “He (Sai) has been batting terrifically. Credit to the support staff and to him as well,” said Pandya
“The amount of batting he's done in the last 15 days, all the result you see is all his hard work. Going forward, if I'm not wrong, in two years, he'll do something great for franchise cricket and eventually for India cricket as well.”
The 21-year-old played risk-free cricket yet never allowed the required rate to get out of control. “Thanks for backing me. A little bit nervous as this is my first time here. I was thinking what has to be done right. I wasn't under pressure, I was calculating the right things,” said Sudharsan after being named the Player of the Match.
“It was a bit low and skidding through, I was thinking to take the right options. My plan was to take the game deep and taking it through. Weathering the storm early on (was more satisfying). It was quite difficult, it was seaming initially, that was the highlight for me.”
Meanwhile, Delhi skipper David Warner said he didn’t expect the new ball to swing so much. Earlier in the first innings, Mohammed Shami (3/41), Joshua Little (0/27), Pandya (0/18) and Alzarri Joseph (2/29) got the ball moving and dismantled DC’s batting order.
Warner (32-ball 37), Sarfaraz Khan (34-ball 30), Abishek Porel (11-ball 20) and Axar Patel (22-ball 36) were the only DC batters to go past the 10-run mark. Eventually, they could only manage a below-par score of 162/8.
“It swung more than I anticipated. Losing wickets in the powerplay can be a struggle. They showed how to adapt to the situation, which is a learning for us. We have got six more games here and anticipate the swing upfront,” said Warner.
What was surprising though that Axar didn’t bowl a single over. “Just purely because of the wicket and the match-ups. We thought Kuldeep would be effective and had Mitch Marsh,” explained Warner.