The ‘millennials’ might have not faith in his coaching, but the veterans of cricketing community always had the belief in Ashish Nehra’s game reading ability and tactical acumen and the former India fast bowler just proved it by playing a crucial role in Gujarat Titans’ IPL 2022 title win.
The Hardik-Pandya led Gujarat Titans (GT) got their hands on the coveted Indian Premier League (IPL) trophy in their very first season after they beat Rajasthan Royals (RR) by seven wickets in the final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
If Hardik was Gujarat’s hero on the field, off the field it was the support staff led by Nehra that played a vital role in GT winning the IPL title.
With the victory, Nehra etched his name on the history books of the cash-rich league. The former left-arm pacer became the first Indian head coach to win the IPL. Notably, in all the previous 14 editions of the IPL, the title-winning side had a foreign head coach but Nehra broke the pattern with GT this year.
The 43-year-old Nehra also became only the third cricketer to have won the IPL both as a head coach and as a player after Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne. Nehra played for Sunrisers Hyderabad when they won IPL in 2016 under David Warner’s captaincy. Ponting was a part of the Mumbai Indians squad when they won their maiden IPL title in 2013 and he was MI’s head coach when they won their second title in 2015. The legendary Shane Warne was both the coach and captain of the Rajasthan Royals when they won the inaugural edition in 2008.
Entering a highly-competitive league like the IPL as a new team and clinching the title in the very first season is a dream stuffy but it wasn’t easy. Watching the final Gujarat squad after the mega auction, most cricket pundits, analysts and even the fans didn’t give Gujarat much of a chance to finish in the top-four. Most experts felt that Gujarat, while assembling a good group, were a bit thin in their batting.
There were also apprehensions about Pandya’s bowling fitness as well as his captaincy skills, given that he had led only once in senior cricket previously. And remember, Nehra worked as the bowling coach of Royal Challengers Bangalore along with Gary Kirsten, who served as their head coach but both were sacked after the 2019 season.
Nehra even had become a ‘meme’ content for many social media users, who perhaps didn’t see him play and deliver for India at crucial junctures’ and just saw him as a cricket analyst.
But, the deadly captain and head coach duo of Hardik and Nehra along with Vikram Solan (Director of Cricket), Gary Kirsten (Batting coach and mentor) and other support staff of GT cracked the winning formula, put an end to all the doubts and won the trophy with sheer domination. In the whole tournament, Gujarat lost just four matches, out of the 16 games which they played, which shows their domination and class.
“It’s a great feeling. More than winning the trophy, the most important thing was the way we played and it was very heartening to see. Under your leadership, the boys gelled very well,” Nehra told skipper Pandya in a fun interview after winning the trophy.
Meanwhile, mentor Gary Kirsten said he enjoyed working with Nehra, rating him as one of the finest tacticians going around.
“I’ve loved working with Ashish, he’s really strong tactically – trying to put a game plan together on the fly is not easy. There are so many variables in each game, but what I’ve enjoyed has been the responsibility players have taken to win games for us,” Kirsten said.
Nehra’s success as the coach also broke many stereotypes, which were there in the IPL for a long long time.
In the history of IPL, it has been observed that franchises are obsessed with having a foreign head coach and they don’t trust the ability of an Indian guy in the main. There were only three Indians — Sanjay Bangar (RCB), Anil Kumble (PBKS) and Ashish Nehra (GT) — who served as the head coach of their respective franchises in IPL 2022. However, with the former Indian fast bowler getting success as a head coach with GT, the number could go up in the upcoming seasons.
Also, throughout the tournament, Nehra looked relaxed and was often spotted without a laptop or technology, reminding everyone that keeping things simple could also win team matches without “over-analysing” things.
In the modern cricketing era, coaches and captains have often been seen relying too much on data analytics, match-ups, especially in T20 cricket. There is no denying that technology helps in enhancing a few facets of the game, but too much reliance on the data can also complicate things. The basic cricketing instincts and reading the game situation well at the crucial junctures of the game still rule the cricket.
Overall, Nehra can become a role model for many coaches in terms of keeping things simple, believing in their abilities, taking tactical decisions and building a good environment in the dressing room.
‘I Presume That He Will Continue As Captain Till The T20 World Cup In 2024’: Sourav Ganguly On Rohit Sharma
Impressed with his captaincy at the ODI World Cup, former captain Sourav Ganguly on Friday threw his weight behind Rohit Sharma, saying he should lead India at least till the T20 World Cup in June next year.
Rohit, who led India to the ODI World Cup final at home, and Virat Kohli have taken a “break” and will miss the white-ball leg of the upcoming South Africa tour, beginning December 10.
Talking to reporters, Ganguly said the duo deserved rest so that they come back “fresh” for the hectic calendar ahead.
“Once Rohit is back playing all formats, he should be the captain of India, because he has done so well in the World Cup,” said the former BCCI president, who was named the Dabur Chyawanprash’s brand ambassador for East India, during a program here.
“You saw in the World Cup how well they played. They are absolutely integral and an important part of Indian cricket. Interestingly, both Rohit and Kohli haven’t played a T20I since the semifinals against England in the 2022 T20 World Cup and the BCCI was not clear whether the duo should be in India’s scheme of things for the T20 global showpiece in six months time.
After the 2022 T20 World Cup, Hardik Pandya was named India’s T20 captain but following his injury during the ODI World Cup, Suryakumar Yadav is leading the team in the ongoing five-T20 series against Australia.
“They have been exceptional this World Cup” – Sourav Ganguly on Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma
“World Cups are different than a bilateral series because the pressures are different. They have been exceptional this World Cup and hopefully six-seven months down the line in the West Indies they will be again at their best,” Ganguly said.
“He’s (Rohit) a leader. I expect and I presume that he will continue as captain till the T20 World Cup in 2024.” The duo will be back for the two-Test series in South Africa beginning with the Boxing Day Test in Centurion.
“Very rightfully, they have taken a break because there is so much cricket all the time. I cannot imagine that you played a World Cup final on the 19th and in three days’ time you’re playing a T20I series against the same team,” Ganguly said.
“It is not easy to pick yourselves up, especially with the pressures and demands of the World Cup. I’m happy that they have got a break.
IPL 2024: ‘We Respect His Decision’, Gujarat Titans’ Director Of Cricket On Hardik Pandya’s ‘Desire’ To Return To Mumbai Indians
Gujarat Titans’ Team Director Vikram Solanki acknowledged Hardik Pandya’s contribution to the team’s success in then last two seasons. The former England cricketer revealed that it was the all-rounder himself who expressed his desire to return to the Mumbai Indians and that they wholeheartedly respect it.
On Monday, Mumbai Indians’ officially proclaimed Pandya’s inclusion in their ranks as some confusion prevailed after all 10 franchises announced their retention and released list. The Titans decided to trade Pandya for a sum of INR 15 crore, with Shubman Gill succeeding the all-rounder as the franchise’s captain for IPL 2024.
As the first captain of Gujarat Titans, Hardik Pandya has helped the franchise deliver two fantastic seasons that resulted in winning one IPL championship and one appearance in the final,” Solanki was quoted as saying in a statement.
“He has now expressed a desire to return to his original team Mumbai Indians. We respect his decision and wish him all the very best in his future endeavours,” the former England batter further added.
“Shubman Gill has shown growth in stature and standing” – Vikram Solanki on Gujarat Titans’ new captain
Solanki, who has closely worked with the Gill, vouched for his maturity.”Shubman Gill has shown growth in stature and standing over the last two years at the highest level of the game. We’ve seen him mature not only as a batter but also as a leader in cricket,” Solanki opined.”His maturity and skill is evident in his on-field performance and we are extremely excited to embark on a new journey with a young leader like Shubman at the helm,” the head of GT think-tank said.
The Titans finished as the runners-up in IPL 2023.
‘Use And Throw Has Been…’: Did Irfan Pathan Take Dig At Hardik Pandya On Reports Of Moving Back To Mumbai Indians Ahead Of IPL 2024?
Former Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan posted a cryptic tweet on X, referring to the ‘Use and Throw’ policy and netizens have predictably started analysing who is it directed to. With star all-rounder Hardik Pandya likely to shift his base back to Mumbai Indians ahead of IPL 2024, fans allege that the post is meant for him.
Several reports have suggested that the Gujarat Titans captain will return to his old franchise in an all-cash deal of ₹15 crore ahead of the 2024 edition. Should it materialise, it will be the biggest trade of the season, given the 30-year-old is one of the most-sought white-ball players in the world today and won the crown on his captaincy debut.Pathan took to X and wrote, ‘Use and throw has been the real characteristic since the start.’
Hardik Pandya currently nursing an ankle injury suffered during the 2023 World Cup:
With the seam-bowling all-rounder suffering an ankle injury during the 2023 World Cup game against Bangladesh, ruling him out of the remaining fixtures too, he is likely to mark his return during IPL 2024. Notably, Pandya could also be leading Team India in the 2024 T20 World Cup set to take place in June 1st week in the West Indies and USA.
The Baroda-born cricketer was part of Mumbai Indians from 2015-2021 and played a hand in four of their title wins. Hence, he would be an invaluable addition to the five-time champions’ arsenal.
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