Captaining a side at the top level for the first time, Hardik Pandya has admitted that a constant effort through the last two years has made him learn to strike a balance on and off the field. On Tuesday, he led Gujarat Titans beat Rajasthan Royals to enter the IPL 2022 final in their debut season.
Under Pandya, Gujarat Titans, a first-time franchise, won Qualifier 1 on Tuesday by seven wickets at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Pandya’s 453 runs in 15 games and seven wickets have played a role, apart from his calm demeanour as the captain.
“I’ve started to balance things in my life. It has been a constant effort through the last couple of years,” Pandya, who was once known for his flamboyant attitude said on Tuesday. Gujarat Titans will now head home to play the final on May 29 at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad.
“In the end, my family, my son, my wife, and my brother as well have played a big role. They kind of allowed me to get neutral in life. I look forward to go home and spend some time with family, and that’s made me a better cricketer as well,” he added on a pragmatic note.
Pandya said that the feeling of reaching the final will take some time to sink in. “Don’t have much feeling right now. Trying to be neutral (calm) again I'll say.” Batting first, Rajasthan Royals put on a competitive 188/6 riding on the back of Jos Buttler’s 89 and Sanju Samson’s 47.
But it was the 106-runs unbroken stand between Hardik Pandya (40 not out) and David Miller (68 not out) that saw Gujarat Titans home with three balls to spare. Gujarat will face the winner of Qualifier 2 which is scheduled for May 27.
For Gujarat Titans, it is the dressing room atmosphere and the presence of some great individuals that brought about this kind of stupendous result. “All the 23 players are different characters, bring different things to the table,” said Pandya.
“Was saying to Miller as well, if you have good people around you, you get good things. It's been that story for us. The kind of people we have, the genuine human beings we have. I genuinely see even the players in the dugout are trying and praying for them to make sure they do well.
“That is something fantastic and that is the reason we have reached where we have reached. It's all about making sure we respect this game.” Pandya was all praise for Rashid Khan, who, once again, had a good day with the ball. On Tuesday, Rashid gave away just 15 runs from his four overs.
“Rash has been fantastic throughout the season and throughout his cricketing journey.” He lavished praise on Miller, who has singlehandedly won at least four games in the tournament so far. “But I'm proud of Miller - the way we have played. Wherever my team requires me to play, I don't generally demand where I want to bat. That's not how I've got success.”