Hardik: Tripathi made Sri Lanka 'chase the game' with his powerplay hitting

Hardik Pandya credits Gujarat Titans coach Ashish Nehra for adding "more value" to his abilities as a captain

Hemant Brar
Hemant Brar
Hardik Pandya has credited Ashish Nehra, his coach at Gujarat Titans in the IPL, for making "a big difference" to his captaincy.
When Hardik was named Titans' captain ahead of IPL 2022, he had led only once at the senior level - in a tour game against Australia in 2017. But he led Titans to the title in their first season itself.
Since then, he had led India's T20I side whenever Rohit Sharma has been unavailable - in eight T20Is, India have won six, tied one, and lost one.
"I had never led in junior cricket either. When I was in Under-16s, I had led Baroda. After that, everyone felt I should focus on my cricket, and since then I had not led," Hardik said after India won the T20I series decider against Sri Lanka in Rajkot on Saturday. "But what has been very important from Gujarat's point of view is the kind of coach I worked with. Ashish Nehra made a big difference in my life. We might be two different personalities, but when it comes to cricket, our mindset and thoughts are very similar.
"Because I was with him, it added more value to my captaincy. I always had the awareness of the game but it was about getting that assurance. It was about kind of backing what I always knew already, so it has definitely helped me."

Tripathi steals the show in the powerplay

While Suryakumar Yadav was undoubtedly the star of the match for his unbeaten 112 off just 51 balls, newcomer Rahul Tripathi was impressive too.
After India opted to bat, Dilshan Madushanka found swing and bounce with the new ball, and dismissed Ishan Kishan in the opening over of the match. From the other end, Kasun Rajitha bowled a maiden to Shubman Gill. But Tripathi, playing only his second T20I, counterattacked, smashing 35 off 16 balls with the help of five fours and two sixes. He ensured India finished the powerplay on 53 for 2 despite Gill being on 14 off 17 balls.
"Obviously everyone knows what Surya did, but special mention to Rahul Tripathi as well," Hardik said. "The kind of intent he showed - something which is so natural to him - can change the game and the momentum. If you see the first couple of overs, the ball was doing something, and people outside, even the next batter, they all thought there was something in the wicket. But because of his intent, the bowlers changed their length and all of a sudden the ball stopped moving. Then it was like they [Sri Lanka] were chasing the game."
Hardik also elaborated on the team's overall batting philosophy. "It's about intent, that's something we have spoken about," he said. "There might be a day when we do the same thing and score only 150 [India scored 228 for 5]. But what's important is the intent. It's not always about being aggressive in terms of hitting. You look for a boundary, and then if it's a good ball, you respect that ball. But if you aim for one first, then you are thinking defensively. Then even if a bad ball is there, you won't be able to put that away.
"A wicket like this doesn't change much; it was suiting batsmen once the ball kind of got old. But intent and aggression are more important on a tricky wicket. Because if you can do the same thing on a tricky wicket, the bowler might feel he has to try something else, whereas if you play normally, he might just come and bowl normally. If we do that [show intent], it makes a difference of ten runs, and at the end of the day, those ten runs make a big difference if you see overall in the game."

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo