Hardik Pandya, our captain, has been named the Sportsman of the Year (Cricket) at the Sportstar Aces Awards 2023 after a remarkable year for club and country. The Gujarat Titans won the Club Team of the Year Award and Pandya’s award is the icing on the cake on a memorable night for us.
It was a year of redemption for Pandya, who had spent time away from the game to rejuvenate after the 2021 T20 World Cup. The result was a memorable comeback, which saw him lift the title for the Gujarat Titans in his first season as captain and return successfully to the Indian team. He was then honoured with the responsibility of leading India in T20 Internationals.
Pandya led the Gujarat Titans by example, scoring 487 runs in 16 matches - the highest for the team during the 2022 season. He also scalped eight wickets with the ball. While he was consistent through the season, his most memorable performance came in the final against Rajasthan Royals as his three-wicket haul and a calm innings with the bat scripted a title-finish.
Pandya soon became India’s T20I captain for the first time in the series against Ireland in June 2022, and continued in that role against New Zealand in November. His golden run from the IPL carried on to the national side as well. Pandya scored 607 runs in 27 T20Is last year at an impressive strike-rate of 145.71, also picking up 20 wickets.
We could not have asked for a better build up to TATA IPL 2023, where we begin our title defence against Chennai Super Kings on March 31 at the Narendra Modi Stadium.