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Had It Not Been For A Phone Call From Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya Would’ve Played For Another IPL Franchise Than Gujarat Titans

Rishikesh Sharma

Had It Not Been For A Phone Call From Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya Would've Played For Another IPL Franchise Than Gujarat Titans

All-rounder Hardik Pandya was released by Mumbai Indians ahead of Indian Premier League 2022 mega auction. Considering his stature, he was always going be a sought-after name in the auction. As a matter of fact, the demand for Pandya had soared to such an extent that the two teams wanted to sign him directly ahead of the 15th season of the cash-rich league.

Such a move was always on the cards because it was going to be way easier to snap Pandya against one competitor than nine present during an auction. Pandya, who hadn’t played a lot of cricket in the years leading up to that auction, still enticed immense amount of interest due to his offerings on paper especially upon regaining optimum fitness.

Hardik Pandya Was In Talks With Lucknow Super Giants

As all the eight other teams were allowed to retain three players ahead of IPL 2022 auction, first-timers in Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans were allowed to sign the same number of players from a pool of released players. With a lot of exciting names being released by the franchises, getting a preferred core was the need of the hour before going to the auction table for these teams.

Pandya, who eventually chose Gujarat, was not only in talks with Lucknow but was also keen to join them because of the presence of a good friend in KL Rahul as captain.

During his appearance on Titans’ podcast named GK meets GTearlier this year, Pandya had expressed a predilection of playing under someone who knows him to host Gaurav Kapur. Pandya, who believes that players who know him personally have a different perspective of him, felt like joining LSG as he could see a lot of boxes getting ticked in this aspect on the back of his bond with Rahul.

“I did get a call from the other franchise [Lucknow Super Giants] as well, which was a new franchise in IPL. Someone [KL Rahul], who I knew, was leading the team. For me, it was very important, considering the stage at which I was, where I really wanted to play with a person who has known me,” Pandya told Kapur.


Had Hardik Pandya joined the franchise based out of Uttar Pradesh, he would’ve again united with elder brother Krunal Pandya (bought in the auction for INR 8.25 crore) as they were part of Mumbai for six seasons between 2016-2021.

A Telephonic Conversation With Ashish Nehra Convinced Hardik Pandya To Join Gujarat Titans

However, what changed Pandya’s mind was a telephonic conversation with former India pacer Ashish Nehra. It is worth mentioning that that proposal had reached Pandya even before the team management was confirmed by the franchise.

Although they represented India together in just 19 T20Is, Nehra and Pandya shared a cordial bond in the past as well. In one of the interviews, Nehra had revealed that Pandya was one of those players who used to entertain him. Additionally, Nehra has supported Pandya when he was criticized in the media because of his performances on a lot of occasions.

“But then Ashu [Ashish Nehra] pa called me. At that time, the team also didn’t have the permission to be part of the IPL. It was very haywire, things weren’t even settled. He said, ‘I’m going to be the coach. It isn’t fixed yet, but I will be coach’. I was like, ‘Ashu pa, if you weren’t there, I wouldn’t have even considered this because you’re saying this… I’ve always felt you are one person who has understood what I am’.”

It is noteworthy that Pandya was left stunned when Nehra offered him the leadership of the Gujarat-based franchise. With consequences of a back surgery restricting his participation across formats back in the day, he was least expected to be given such a mammoth responsibility by any franchise of the cash-rich league. In the hindsight, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that this particular offer from Nehra had sealed the deal.

Across two successful years at Titans, Nehra backed giving the captaincy to Pandya terming him as a sure-starter in the Playing XI. The duo worked wonders as GT lifted the silverware in the very first season itself. Furthermore, they reached IPL 2023 final losing to Chennai Super Kings by the barest of margins.

About the author

Rishikesh Sharma

Rishikesh Sharma


An engineering graduate and an ardent sports fan, Rishikesh Sharma is covering cricket for three years now after not making peace with a corporate life and has written more than 5000 articles. While Sourav Ganguly made him fall in love with the sport, Brendon McCullum and Gautam Gambhir enhanced it. Apart from cricket, Rishikesh is a huge fan of Liverpool FC. When not watching sports, you will find him riding around Jaipur.

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