In a thrilling finale to the IPL 2023 season, defending champions Gujarat Titans suffered a heart-wrenching defeat at the hands of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on the last ball of the match.
Despite the loss, Titans' captain Hardik Pandya expressed his admiration for CSK skipper MS Dhoni, whom he considers his mentor.
The rain-affected match saw CSK needing 10 runs from 2 balls. Ravindra Jadeja stepped up to the challenge, smashing a six and a four off Mohit Sharma to secure the victory for his team.
During the post-match presentation, Pandya expressed his happiness for Dhoni, stating, "I'm very happy for him. 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."
Earlier in the match, after being put to bat, Gujarat Titans posted an impressive total of 214 for 4, thanks to exceptional innings by 21-year-old Sai Sudharsan, who scored a blistering 96 off just 47 balls. However, rain interruptions and wet conditions reduced CSK's target to 171 runs from 15 overs.
When asked if the rain hampered their chances, Pandya dismissed any excuses, saying, "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."
Although the Titans couldn't defend their title, Pandya highlighted the positives from their season. Shubman Gill emerged as the second-highest run-scorer in an IPL season, accumulating 890 runs. Mohammed Shami claimed the leading wicket-taker title with 28 dismissals, while Mohit Sharma and Rashid Khan shared the second position with 27 wickets each.
Pandya expressed his pride in the team's performance, stating, "I am really happy for the guys. 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."
He also added "a special mention for the coaching staff" for their contribution. "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."