New Delhi. It has been more than a week for Gujarat Titans to win the first season IPL trophy but the praise of captain Hardik Pandya is not taking its name to end. It was not a new thing to see Pandya getting back into form again with the ball and the bat, but the manner in which Pandya tied the knot with his captaincy was hardly expected by anyone. David Miller, the legendary South African batsman and who played a key role in the victory of the Titans, however, was not at all surprised by the leadership ability of his new captain.
“He is a senior player and also a leader. Even if he was not the captain, I can see many things in him that make him a leader. See, Hardik has played for India and Mumbai and has contributed to the team’s victory in different ways. It didn’t matter whether he was the captain or not. From my point of view, I would say that I really enjoyed playing under his captaincy because he backed me throughout the IPL. It’s also good to see that he has a great sense of humor and strategy too,” said Miller in a special conversation with News18 Hindi.
Naturally, when Miller praised his captain so openly, this writer raised some questions about Pandya’s captaincy. We asked Miller what is it that makes Pandya special as a captain?
“Look, as I told you earlier, he definitely has leadership abilities. During this IPL, I got to spend a lot of time with him off the field as well. He is this type of person who goes to every player. converse with them. Whether it is a very senior player of the team or a junior. We all enjoyed seeing this look of his personality,” said Miller, who played the match-winner in white ball cricket for South Africa.
But, for Gujarat’s best success in IPL, it would probably not be appropriate to make only Hardik a hero. The way head coach Ashish Nehra worked hard behind the scenes and encouraged the team while keeping the entire team united, it made a big difference in the morale of the team.
“Ashish’s role has been extraordinary. I learned a lot from his presence throughout the IPL and was a part of a very enjoyable experience. Ashish gave the freedom to the players to openly speak their mind and express it without any hesitation. He was cool throughout the tournament and helped us a lot.” It is believed that Miller, along with Pandya and Shubman Gill, scored more than 400 runs in IPL 2022 and due to which his team benefited a lot.
In fact, Nehra’s image has been that of a funny friend and brilliant storyteller in Delhi. Nehra may not have played 100 Test matches for India, but former Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has also been a fan of his cricketing knowledge and especially his strategy.
“Look, teams often get the benefit of this if your coach has a great understanding of cricket and a great sense of humor. Apart from this, in IPL, you have the responsibility of handling the players. I believe every player from Gujarat got a lot of pleasure from Nehra’s presence.”
Miller may emerge as a hero in the IPL this year but it is not easy for him to do so. Especially, in the T20 format, changing the course of the match while batting in the last few overs has been a very tough challenge since the beginning of this format. When we asked Miller, who has faced many ups and downs, why is it that there has been a lot of change in every area in the T20 format but there has been no change in the situation regarding the role of batsmen in the death overs?
“It’s not like that either. Changes keep happening in the game and due to such changes, the game moves forward. I believe if you try to learn new shots during the training session, then it will benefit you. Your game will be helped more if you strengthen your strong side and you will get success in this format.
In IPL, those players are often appreciated who keep playing for the same franchise for a long time. If names like Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma come easily in your mind among Indian players, then foreign players like AB de Villiers, Lashit Maling are also present in foreign players. But, there are many players including Miller who have to go through the challenge of playing for different teams. Miller, who played for Gujarat this year, played for Rajasthan last year and before that from Punjab. In such a situation, is it not a very difficult task for a player every time to adjust with a new team and new captain? Now just look at the World Cup winning captain Aaron Finch who has played for almost every team!
“To be honest, you can’t put me in the line of players like Finch. Before Royals, I was a regular part of Punjab for almost a decade and hence it cannot be said that I play for different teams again and again. Anyway, changing teams doesn’t change much. If you are a professional player then you have a role for every team where you have the responsibility to win matches. You are challenged to follow the philosophy of every team captain, coach and management. Anyway, the reality is that no matter which team you play for, as a player you have the responsibility of scoring runs and taking wickets which doesn’t change in any team.
On the way, we asked Miller what he thought about his fellow player, Rahul Teotia. Tewatia has not got any chance for Team India till now despite playing amazing innings as a finisher in IPL. “Tewatia definitely has the potential to play for India. Whenever the Indian selectors remember him, I hope he will be super ready for it. There is no doubt that his future is bright.”
FIRST PUBLISHED : June 08, 2022, 14:01 IST