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Hardik Pandya: ‘If I had to lose, I don’t mind losing to MS Dhoni’

After defending champions Gujarat Titans lost to Chennai Super Kings on the last ball of the IPL 2023 final in Ahmedabad, their captain Hardik Pandya said he didn’t mind losing to MS Dhoni, whom he considers his mentor.

In a rain-affected game, it came down to CSK needing ten from two balls, and Ravindra Jadeja hit Mohit Sharma for a six and four to seal the win for his side.

“I’m very happy for him [Dhoni],” Hardik said at the post-match presentation. “Destiny had this written for him. If I had to lose, I don’t mind losing to him. I said last year that good things happen to good people. I think he is one of the nicest people I have met. God has been kind to me, but I think God gave him a little more today.”

After being put in, Titans posted 214 for 4, thanks to 21-year-old Sai Sudharsan‘s 47-ball 96. But rain, and then wet conditions, reduced CSK’s task to 171 required from 15 overs.

When asked if rain hampered his side’s chances, Hardik said: “I’m not one of those guys who make excuses. CSK played better cricket than us. The way we batted was definitely amazing. Special mention to Sai as well. Someone that young coming and playing at this stage the kind of innings he played. I just wish him well and he is going to do wonders in his life.”

While Titans couldn’t defend their title, there were many positives throughout the season. Shubman Gill finished the tournament with 890 runs, the second-most for a batter in an IPL season. Mohammed Shami, with 28 wickets, was the leading wicket-taker this year, and Mohit Sharma and Rashid Khan were the joint-second with 27 each.

“I am really happy for the guys,” he said. “We’ve always been about backing them, and making sure they get the best out of them. Their success has been their success. The way they have prepared, the way they have taken the responsibility… Mohit, Shami, Rashid, everyone… the way they put their hand up and said, ‘Don’t worry, we got you.’ So very happy for the boys.

“I think we tick a lot of boxes, and we play with our heart. We’ve always been a team that has stood together and backed each other. Really proud of the way they have played the whole season. No one gave up. They kept fighting. In our team, there’s a motto: we win together and we lose together. Maybe it was one of those days today.

“A special mention for the coaching staff as well. They have been fantastic. They have had sleepless nights making sure the boys are in a good frame of mind. I can’t ask anything more from them.”

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