IPL 2022 | My ‘dear brother and friend’ MS Dhoni has played big role in my life, says Hardik Pandya

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After a 7-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals in Qualifier 1, Gujarat Titans skipper Hardik Pandya has said that his ‘dear brother and friend’ MS Dhoni has played a major role in his life to growing. Hardik has been superb as captain for the Titans, helping his side reach the final in its debut season.

Before the inception of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022, Hardik Pandya had never been a captain of any side. He was drafted by Gujarat Titans (GT) -- one of the two new franchises -- ahead of the 2022 mega auction and was later appointed as their leader. There was plenty of criticism regarding the decision, largely due to his lack of experience in that role.

However, Hardik proved them wrong. He helped the Titans reach the final on its debut season with a seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday, in Qualifier 1 at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. His unbeaten 27-ball 40, coupled with David Miller's 68 not out off 38 balls, guided the Titans to chase down a tough target of 189 in 19.3 overs.

Speaking at the virtual post-match conference, Hardik was asked how he has evolved himself into a much-improved cricketer, as well as a leader. Hardik credited MS Dhoni immediately, calling him his 'dear brother and friend', and further mentioned it was him who has always kept him on the right direction.

"Mahi bhai has played a big role in my life. He's a dear brother, a dear friend, and family to me. I've learnt a lot of good things from him. It was more about being individually strong, which I'm proud of myself and how I managed all the parts," Hardik said at the virtual post-match conference.

"Before the captaincy, I always made sure that I approached all the situations in a cool-headed way. Generally, you make better decisions that way. It was important for me in my life and my cricketing journey to give that 10-second extra rather than rushing in."

For the summit clash, the Titans will now wait for the winners of Qualifier 2, where the Royals will take on the victorious of Eliminator, one of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Lucknow Super Giants (LSG).

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