Out-of-favour and struggling with his back injury since his T20 World Cup appearance in UAE last year, Pandya’s elevation to captaincy for the new franchise had raised a few eyebrows ahead of the season.
But the Titans have turned heads with eight wins from nine matches, five of them coming in a row after their Saturday’s six-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore to virtually seal their playoff berth in their inception year.
“As a person, I always make sure that I don’t like to grow just as an individual. I like to grow with my teammates or people around me. That’s the reason of our success as well. Obviously, I might be the captain, but there is no hierarchy,” Pandya said at the post-match media interaction at the Brabourne Stadium here.
“Everyone is on the same path — one for all and all for one. That’s the approach which we’re carrying and that is the reason I think the boys feel they are as important as the captain.
“So yeah, obviously enjoying the new opportunity, fantastic bunch of people around. With results going our way, I can’t ask for a better start,” the 28-year-old added.
Chasing 171, GT were reduced to 95/4 inside 13 overs as they had an uphill equation of 58 off 30 balls as Rahul Tewatia (43 not out off 25 balls) once again played the role of a finisher with David Miller (39 not out; 24b) in his company.
The duo took them across the line with three balls to spare as GT now have 16 points from nine points, almost certain of making the playoffs.
“Rahul has been tremendous for us. The kind of confidence he carries has been fantastic. They (Rahul and Miller) are stepping up whenever they’re getting the opportunity and making sure that they get the job for the team,” he said.
The other day at the Wankhede, Tewatia smashed an unbeaten 40 from 21 balls, while Rashid Khan made an 11-ball 31 not out to pull off a heist against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
“With the kind of players we have, someone like Tewatia, Rashid and Miller as well, it gives a lot of value. Obviously we are backing their batting, it gives me more confidence that even 8-9-10 can win the game for us. That’s a good sign for us,” he said.
Hardik also gave a lot of credit to his bowlers to keep star India batter Virat Kohli after he returned to form with his first half-century (58; 53b) in 14 matches.
“We executed our plans pretty well to him. There was one point of time where he was in his zone, rotating the strike well and that’s where our bowlers made sure to get a few dot balls there to break their momentum.
“Rajat (Patidar) was also going fantastic at one point of the game but our bowlers made sure they kept it tight especially against Virat and didn’t allow him to get into his rhythm,” he added.
The injury-prone India allrounder has not bowled in the last three matches.
“As for my bowling, I don’t have to… Whenever it comes, it comes,” he concluded.
Gujarat Titans next face Punjab Kings at the DY Patil Navi Mumbai on May 3.