IPL 2024 auction stands done and dusted with 72 players being bought for INR 230.45 by 10 teams across the board with the two Australians Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins getting the biggest bids of the auction history. However, weeks into the build-up to the auction were all surrounded by the Hardik Pandya trade, the biggest one in IPL history as a tournament-winning captain was traded, back to his original franchise Mumbai Indians (MI), just two years after being with the Gujarat Titans (GT).
Now Hardik has been appointed as MI captain and the emotions of the fans of the franchise and their angry reactions were understandable given he has replaced Rohit Sharma, a leader who has won five titles. While Mumbai Indians have elaborated on their stance of transition and looking towards the future and why the change was necessary, Gujarat Titans management spoke for the first time on the trade.
GT head coach Ashish Nehra gave his first reaction on the trade on the sidelines of the IPL 2024 auction in Dubai. Nehra admitted that replacing a player like Hardik was difficult for them but they tried their best. Since Hardik wanted to go back to MI, Nehra said that they let him as they wanted him to be happy.
“Hardik Pandya has not gone back to a team that has caused a huge surprise. He played for that team for so many years, he showed his desire to go back there. Our management’s nature is such that, we think if a player wants to go there, right. He should be happy and that’s why he has gone there again. Replacing someone like Hardik Pandya is difficult, but we tried our best,” Ashish Nehra told JIoCinema.
GT added the likes of Afghan all-rounder Azmatullah Omarzai and Indian big-hitter Shahrukh Khan to plug that hole but Nehra still admitted that it is difficult to stitch the gap given Hardik’s ability, talent and experience.
“Having the size of 25 members is a luxury. We got a great all-rounder like Omarzai, we also got Shahrukh Khan. But it will be difficult to make up for somebody like Hardik who has that much talent and that much experience. It is what it is. With the resources we have, we will try and do our best,” Nehra added. With the likes of Shubman Gill, David Miller, Rashid Khan and Mohammad Shami in the side, GT will aim for another playoff finish and go all the way after two back-to-ball finals.
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