We will miss Hardik’s experience but I never tried to convince him to stay back: Ashish Nehra

Ahmedabad: Gujarat Titans head coach Ashish Nehra on Saturday said he never tried to convince

against returning to Mumbai Indians but conceded that the star all-rounder’s experience would be dearly missed by the team in the

beginning on March 22.

Pandya, who led GT to IPL title in their maiden year before taking them to the final last year, has

as their skipper for the upcoming season.

“In any sport, you have to move on. You cannot buy experience and to replace someone like Hardik Pandya or (an injured) Mohammed Shami isn’t going to be easy. But that’s a learning curve and that’s how team moves forward,” Nehra told mediapersons here on Saturday.

Pandya-Nehra combination had worked wonders for GT in their first two seasons and the inevitable question arose whether the head coach tried to stop the skipper from joining Mumbai Indians.

“I never tried to convince Pandya to stay back. As you play more, you gain experience. I could have stopped him had he gone to any other franchise. He (Pandya) played here for two years but he has gone to a team (MI), where he has played previously for 5-6 years,” Nehra was frank in his admission.

The way Pandya’s transfer took place, Nehra feels that day isn’t far away when IPL goes the European club football way.

“The manner in which the sport (cricket) is moving, we will have trades and transfers like we see in international soccer. It’s a new challenge for him and may be he will learn something new and we wish him the best.”

Nehra was predictably asked about how he looked at Shubman Gill’s elevation as the skipper and how he would manage a team full of seniors.

“As a new captain, I want to see how he (Gill) operates and not just me, the whole India would like to see because he is that kind of a player,” the former left-arm seamer said.

“He is looking to play and do well in all three formats, so we as a franchise would like to help him grow more as a person than as a captain. If he grows as a person, he will grow more as a captain going forward and get better and better,” the coach said.

He cited Pandya’s example when he was roped in 2022 as the team’s skipper.

“Before Hardik joined GT, he had no prior experience of captaining any side. There are 10 IPL teams and you will see more and more new captains. Shreyas Iyer and even Nitish Rana did captaincy for KKR. Let’s see which guy capitalises moving ahead.”

The 2011 World Cup winner is bullish about his team’s possible replacements with Shami ruled out following a surgery on his achillies tendon and Rashid Khan recuperating from a back surgery.

“IPL is now a 12-people game (Impact Player added) and to fill in Hardik and Shami’s shoes, it is not going to be easy but we have enough people. We have Umesh Yadav, who have been playing the IPL for more than 12 years,” Nehra said.

He is also hopeful that Tamil Nadu skipper R Sai Kishore, who got 55 wickets in Ranji Trophy, will deliver the goods.

“Sai Kishore didn’t play (much) last year, but he has been doing so well. So every year you will be seeing new new guys, you have to believe in yourself and prepare for that,” he said.

When asked if Rashid doesn’t get fit in time, Nehra said: “About spinners, its not that we don’t have experienced spinners. We have Jayant Yadav and Sai Kishore. I am a firm believer of playing to your strengths. In Chennai and Lucknow, there will be slow tracks and we need to be prepared.”

The coach also informed that rookie Jharkhand keeper-batter Robin Minz, who recently met with a bike accident in Ranchi, is unlikely to play IPL this year.

“It is unfortunate but we were also excited about a guy like Minz,” the coach concluded.

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