IPL 2024: Ashish Nehra discusses why he opted not to convince Hardik Pandya to stay with GT

In anticipation of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024, Ashish Nehra, the head coach of Gujarat Titans (GT), offered insights into the departure of their former captain, Hardik Pandya. The dynamic Indian all-rounder, Hardik, opted to make a return to the Mumbai Indians (MI) through an all-cash trade deal finalized ahead of the mini-auction held in December 2023.

Hardik Pandya’s return to Mumbai Indians

After rejoining MI, Hardik assumed the role of captain, taking over from the franchise’s most successful leader, Rohit Sharma, who clinched a record five championships during his tenure. Initially acquired by GT in the 2022 edition via the pre-auction draft after being released by MI, the 30-year-old had been an integral part of the Mumbai-based franchise since the IPL 2015 auction.

He played a pivotal role in MI’s title victories in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2020 before parting ways with the team. In IPL 2022, Pandya led GT to a title triumph in their inaugural season. Despite his departure from the franchise ahead of the 2024 edition, Hardik’s contributions were instrumental in guiding the Titans to the final in the 2023 IPL season.

Ashish Nehra’s reflection on Hardik’s departure

Nehra openly acknowledged that he refrained from persuading Hardik against rejoining the Mumbai. However, Nehra conceded that the team would sorely miss Pandya’s wealth of experience in the forthcoming IPL season, slated to commence on March 22.

“In any sport, you have to move on. You cannot buy experience and to replace someone like Hardik Pandya or (an injured) Mohammed Shami isn’t going to be easy. But that’s a learning curve and that’s how team moves forward,” Nehra was quoted as saying by The Times of India.

Also READ: IPL 2024: 5 players who can replace Mohammed Shami in Gujarat Titans’ squad

Nehra explains why he chooses not to persuade Hardik

The successful partnership between Hardik and Nehra had been evident in GT’s initial two seasons, prompting speculation about whether the head coach made efforts to dissuade the captain from joining the Mumbai.

“I never tried to convince Pandya to stay back. As you play more, you gain experience. I could have stopped him had he gone to any other franchise. He (Pandya) played here for two years but he has gone to a team (MI), where he has played previously for 5-6 years,” the 44-year-old added.

Speculations and visions for the future of IPL

Reflecting on Pandya’s transfer, Nehra expressed his belief that the IPL may eventually adopt a structure akin to European club football.

“The manner in which the sport (cricket) is moving, we will have trades and transfers like we see in international soccer. It’s a new challenge for him and may be he will learn something new and we wish him the best,” Nehra concluded.

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