Hardik Pandya's 'returned home after 2 years' take set to intensify MI vs GT tie | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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Hardik Pandya's 'returned home after 2 years' comment set to intensify MI vs GT rivalry in IPL 2024

By, New Delhi
Mar 05, 2024 05:49 PM IST

Hardik Pandya's Mumbai Indians will meet former champions Gujarat Titans in their IPL 2024 opener. Pandya rejoined MI from GT ahead of the new season.

Born in Gujarat, but it feels like Mumbai adopted him. After playing two seasons for his home side - the Gujarat Titans (GT), Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya is convinced that he has finally returned home. Pandya is back at Mumbai Indians (MI) - A franchise where he tasted early Indian Premier League (IPL) success as an up-and-coming all-rounder in T20 cricket.

Mumbai Indians then captain Rohit Sharma and Gujarat Titans then captain Hardik Pandya during an IPL match(PTI)
Mumbai Indians then captain Rohit Sharma and Gujarat Titans then captain Hardik Pandya during an IPL match(PTI)

The premier all-rounder was a part of Mumbai's title-winning side on four occasions between 2015 and 2021. Completing his homecoming for IPL 2024, Pandya re-joined Mumbai Indians in an all-cash deal with Gujarat Titans before the mini-auction in Dubai. Hardik also succeeded veteran Rohit Sharma as Mumbai's captain for the new season. The former GT skipper was also Rohit's deputy at the 2023 edition of the ICC World Cup.

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Hardik's Mumbai Paltan to meet GT in their IPL 2024 opener

An ankle injury cut short Pandya's campaign at the ICC event last year. A fit-again Pandya recently returned to competitive cricket after his long injury layoff. Speaking to Star Sports ahead of his captaincy debut at MI, Pandya asserted that he returned home after two years. Hardik and Co. will meet GT in their IPL 2024 opener on March 24. "I'm deeply thankful for the immense love and support from fans. It's a blessing beyond words," Hardik said.

Hardik's homecoming remark to intensify MI vs GT rivalry

"Returning to Mumbai Indians feels like coming back to where it all began. From my journey as a young lad in Baroda to Mumbai, this city has taught me growth, instilling in me humility and resilience. The city's love and teachings are invaluable to me, shaping me into the cricketer I am today. Mumbai always challenges you to be better and now with the IPL, I have returned home after 2 years,” added Hardik, who guided Gujarat Titans to IPL glory in 2022.

How Mumbai sealed Hardik deal for IPL 2024

To land Hardik at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai Indians parted ways with Cameron Green as the Australian all-rounder was traded to Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) for INR 17.5 crore. Hardik kickstarted his IPL journey as an MI rookie when the all-rounder signed for the franchise at INR 10 lakh in 2015. The former GT skipper was released by Mumbai ahead of the mega auction. Hardik guided GT to back-to-back IPL finals after leaving Mumbai.

Pandya's turning point in IPL

"Coming from Baroda, it was a life-changing experience for me when I remember 2015’s IPL. That year was pivotal in my career. Representing Mumbai Indians amidst seasoned players was a turning point for me. When you get a chance to play with such established players on such a big platform, your life changes. I was fortunate enough that I was able to contribute on a much larger scale to the knockout games. Bagging two 'Man of the Match' awards during crucial knockout games was surreal. It marked the beginning of an extraordinary journey for me, it’s a chapter I'll always cherish,” the MI skipper concluded.

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