Gujarat Titans skipper Hardik Pandya said that one needs to be a “proper devil” to harbour grudges against the talismanic Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is probably playing his last IPL season.
As the Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans line up to play Qualifier 1 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Tuesday, Pandya also debunked the myth that Dhoni, one of the most successful India captains, was a serious person.
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“I’ll always be a Mahendra Singh Dhoni fan and for so many fans out there and so many cricket lovers. You need to be a proper devil to hate Mahendra Singh Dhoni,” said Pandya in a video posted by Gujarat Titans on social media.
The turnaround Dhoni has effected from last season has once again brought the spotlight on him as CSK aim to bag their fifth IPL title after finishing second-last in 2022.
While last year the captaincy conundrum took a toll on the side, CSK have been in sublime form with the likes of Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ajinkya Rahane coming together to once again give the team the look of a title-winning unit.
Pandya said he had learnt a lot of cricketing nuances from Dhoni, not by picking his brains but simply by watching him in action.
“A lot of people think Mahi is serious and all that. For me, I crack jokes and I don’t see him as a Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“Obviously, I’ve learnt a lot of things from him, a lot of positive things, which I’ve learnt from him just while watching, not even much talking,” said Pandya, who would be aiming to retain the IPL title the team won last year by defeating Rajasthan Royals.
The country’s top all-rounder also said that for him MSD was like a brother who he could chill around with.
“For me, he’s just my dear friend, dear brother, who I do pranks, who I chill.”
Gujarat Titans also posted a message terming Dhoni a “Captain. Leader. [email protected] is an emotion.”