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Hardik Pandya has been named future captain of India after Gujarat’s IPL fairy tale – World

All-rounder Hardik Pandya is being tipped as the future Indian captain after leading an unpopular debut team to victory in the world’s most valuable cricket tournament.

Pandyas Gujarat Titans beat Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in Sunday’s Indian Premier League (IPL) final, with the skipper winning three wickets and scoring 34 runs in front of nearly 105,000 fans at the world’s largest cricket stadium.

It was the culmination of an extraordinary season that began with pundits pinning down the team’s purchases in the player auction, questioning Pandya’s appointment as captain and predicting a dismal outcome for the expansion of the franchise’s first season.

But the 28-year-old – a flamboyant cricketer who loves his tattoos and expensive watches, and who was once suspended for making sexist comments on a TV show – has proved a revelation in his first managerial role.

Commentators have praised the precision of his decision making and field setting in the Twenty20 format.

Following the Titans’ triumph at their home stadium in Ahmedabad, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar said Pandya was a worthy choice to follow in his footsteps.

“If you have leadership qualities, that automatically opens the door for national level honours, to be able to captain the Indian national team in the near future,” the big hitter said.

“The way he led the team, the way he brought them together, the way he brought them together means he has leadership qualities,” he said star sport. “Not just my assessment, but everyone’s assessment. This was an aspect of his game that nobody had too much information about.”

The national side is currently led in all formats by Rohit Sharma, who was appointed earlier this year after the sacking of One-Day International (ODI) Virat Kohli, but at 35 he is unlikely to be a long-term captain and for him A home series against South Africa in June is rested.

Rohit’s five-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians had a disastrous season, finishing bottom.

‘A dream becomes true’

Pandya is a hard-hitting, medium-ranked hitter and a fast bowler. He has played 11 Tests, 63 ODIs and 54 Twenty20 matches for India.

A back injury kept him from doing so after last year’s T20 World Cup, but he proved his fitness with 487 runs and eight wickets in 15 IPL games to qualify for the five-game Twenty20 series against South Africa that begins on June 9 to secure a callback.

According to Indian media reports, he could get his first taste of the national leadership in two T20s in Ireland later in June.

Pandya said he’s “always enjoyed responsibility” and “it kind of brings out the best in me.”

His next goal, he told reporters after the IPL win, is “definitely win the World Cup for India no matter what.

“Playing for India has always been a dream come true no matter how many times and no matter how many games I played. And the kind of love and support I get is only from the point of view of the Indian team.”

India, then led by Kohli, failed to make it to the semi-finals of last year’s T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates but will have another shot at the title when Australia hosts the next edition later this year.

Former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori feels that the captaincy role is not burdensome for Pandya as all-rounders are used to donning different hats.

“I think what we forget about all-rounders is that they have so much responsibility anyway,” he said ESPNcricinfo.

“So they can actually handle it because they bowl all day, bat all day, they’re used to being busy all the time.” Pandya is “very authentic,” he added. “He feels comfortable with leadership, with responsibility.”

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