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IPL 2023: ‘Hardik Pandya’s homecoming will be emotional,’ says Ravi Shastri
- GT are set to take on MI on Friday in Mumbai
- GT defeated MI by 55 runs earlier this season
- Hardik’s GT won the IPL title last year
Hardik rose to fame during his stint with MI, whom he joined in the IPL 2015 auction for Rs 10 lakh. Thanks to his all-round brilliance, MI retained him for Rs 11 crore in 2018. He won four IPL trophies with MI in seven seasons, including back-to-back trophies in 2019 and 2020. He then went on to captain his new side Gujarat Titans (GT) to IPL glory last season in their maiden outing in the tournament.
While at MI, Hardik scored 1,476 runs and picked up 42 wickets. Krunal, his brother, has also played for MI in the IPL.
Hardik-led GT are set to take on Rohit Sharma’s MI at Wankhede Stadium in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 on Friday.
"Hardik's homecoming will be emotional. He will play a crucial match against the team at the ground where he rose to stardom. Hardik would like to prove a lot by leading his team to victory. This match will be really interesting as it will not be easy for GT to beat MI at their home and then MI would like to equalize the defeat in Ahmedabad and take a strong step towards the playoffs," Shastri said while speaking on Star Sports' Cricket Live.
GT, who are at the top of the IPL 2023 table, are a win away from guaranteeing a top-two finish. Hardik and Co have 16 points from 11 games and will get two chances to play the final if they win at Wankhede Stadium on Friday. The reigning champions have won four of their last five league games and have been the competition's standout team. Their excellent bowling unit turns out as an excellent stylistic contrast against MI, who cannot possibly compete in that department.
Earlier this season, when MI and GT faced off, it was Hardik’s side that thrashed five-time champions MI by 55 runs in Ahmedabad. Abhinav Manohar's blazing cameo, along with crucial knocks from Shubman Gill and David Miller, set the tone for the home side. Afghanistan spinners Noor Ahmad and Rashid Khan then took five wickets each. Despite inconsistency and an failure to defend totals, MI have delivered at critical times this campaign. Their strong batting lineup has easily scaled down scores, and they're gradually settling on the right combination as well.
MI need to bring their A-game vs GT: Harbhajan Singh
Meanwhile, former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh cautioned MI to bring their A-Game against a strong Gujarat side that looks quite balanced and has a superior bowling attack.
"MI will have to bring their A-Game against GT because the latter's bowling lineup is very strong. GT has Rashid, Shami and other quality bowlers. Mumbai's bowling attack, on the other hand, is weaker and they are leaking 200-plus runs. Yes, MI have chased down three consecutive 200-plus totals, but the law of averages might catch up. Also, toss is going to be very crucial in that game, if MI lose the toss, it will be tough," Harbhajan said speaking on Star Sports' Cricket Live.
With 16 points from 11 games, GT are table-toppers at present in IPL 2023, while MI are in fourth place with 12 points from 11 matches.
GT’s Gill has been the standout batter this season for the defending champion, scoring 469 runs at an average of 46.90 and strike-rate of 143.42.