'Ashish Nehra made a big difference in my life, because of our mindsets. We might be two different personalities, but we have very similar cricketing thoughts.'
Hardik Pandya hasn’t looked back since leading Gujarat Titans to the IPL title in their maiden appearance last year. For all the success that's come his way, India’s new T20I skipper credits Ashish Nehra, his franchise coach.
Coming back from a long injury lay-off, the premier all-rounder was made the Gujarat Titans skipper in a bold move by the first-timers. But Pandya, who had led only once at the senior level in a tour game against Australia, proved his detractors wrong and led by example.
"What has been very important from Gujarat point of view is the kind of coach I worked with. Ashish Nehra made a big difference in my life, because of our mindsets. We might be two different personalities, but we have very similar cricketing thoughts," said Pandya, after leading India to a 2-1 series win over Sri Lanka in Rajkot on Saturday.
"Because I was with him, it added value to my captaincy. It helped me to get exactly what I know. It was just about getting that assurance; once I got that... the awareness of this game I always knew. It was all about knowing and backing what I knew already. It has definitely helped me," he added.
Before the home series against Sri Lanka, the Indian selectors overhauled the side after the Rohit Sharma-led team failed to win the T20I World Cup in Australia, losing to eventual champions England in the semi-finals.
Prior to the Sri Lanka series, Pandya had led India's T20I side whenever Rohit was unavailable.
"I've never led in junior cricket as well. When I was under-16 I led Baroda. After that everyone thought that I should focus on my game. Since then, I've not led (a side)."