Nehra made a big difference to my GT captain: Pandya

There has been no looking back for Hardik Pandya since he led Gujarat Titans to an IPL triumph in their first appearance last year, and the new Indian T20I skipper praises his franchise coach Ashish Nehra for making “a huge difference” for his captain .

Coming back from a long injury layoff, the best all-rounder was named skipper of Gujarat by the first-timers in a bold move.

But Pandya, who had only led once at senior level in a tour match against Australia, proved his opponents wrong and led by example.

“What has been very important from a Gujarat point of view is the kind of coach I have worked with. Ashish Nehra has made a big difference in my life, because of our way of thinking. We may be two different personalities, but we have very similar cricket thoughts,” said Pandya after leading India to a 2-1 victory over Sri Lanka on Saturday.

“Being with him added value to my captaincy. It helped me get exactly what I know. It was just about getting that assurance, once I had that… the awareness of this game that I’ve always known. It was all about knowing and supporting what I already knew. It definitely helped me,” he added.

Ahead of the home series against Sri Lanka, the Indian selectors overhauled the side after the Rohit Sharma-led team failed to win the T20I World Cup in Australia, losing to eventual champions England in the semi-finals.

Prior to this series, Pandya had managed the Indian T20I squad whenever Rohit was unavailable.

“I have also never led in junior cricket. When I was under 16 I managed Baroda. After that everyone thought I should concentrate on my game. I have not led (one side) since then,” added Pandya.

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