On Sunday, Hardik Pandya led the Gujarat Titans (GT) to a maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) title in their debut season and since then talks of him replacing Rohit Sharma as Team India’s skipper have gathered steam.

The way Hardik Pandya guided the Ahmedabad-based franchise to the IPL crown was commendable because nobody expected them to achieve such a feat at the start of the tournament.

However, junior Pandya marshalled his troops extremely well and his side’s triumph in the cash-rich league was a testament to his leadership qualities as he got the best out of his players.

Gujarat Titans didn’t have superstars in their line-up, yet ended up winning the competition because Hardik Pandya backed his colleagues to the hilt.

The likes of David Miller, Shubhman Gill, and Wriddhiman Saha who were struggling with their previous franchises, found a different gear with the Gujarat Titans and that’s why they were able to deliver on more occasions than not.

One of the biggest reasons behind their success with the debutant IPL outfit was that Hardik Pandya always believed in them. Besides, he never panicked when push came to shove and remained calm as a cucumber even in crunch situations, something which rubbed on the shoulders of his teammates too as they never got tensed when they were under any kind of pressure.

Hardik Pandya’s captaincy of the Gujarat Titans has had such an impact on former players that they now want him to lead Team India.

The legendary Sunil Gavaskar was mightily impressed with Hardik’s leadership qualities and he reckons that he’s in the scheme of things to be appointed as India’s next skipper.

“We all knew what he could do with the bat, what he could do with the ball, but there was just a little bit of a concern before the start of the season about whether he would be able to bowl his full quota of 4 overs. He has done that, he has shown that. That all-rounder aspect is done, and everybody is happy,” Gavaskar said in a conversation with Star Sports.

“But this now, the way he has led the team, the way he has got them together, the way he has got them to gel together means he has got leadership qualities,” the ex-India captain added.

“When you have leadership qualities, it automatically opens the door for honours at the national level to be able to captain the Indian national team in the near future,” the original Little Master explained.

“So that’s exciting, there are 3-4 other names in the ring. I am not saying he is the next in line. But for the selection committee to have that option is fantastic,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, ex-New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori, who also captained Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) before Virat Kohli took over from him, believes Hardik Pandya is not burdened by captaincy as all-rounders already have so much responsibility on their shoulders.

“I think the thing we forget about all-rounders is they have so much responsibility on them anyway,” he told ESPNcricinfo.

“So they can actually handle it because they bowl all day, they bat all day, they are used to being busy all the time.”

The growing chorus for Hardik Pandya as India skipper isn’t without a reason though.

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India’s current all-format skipper Rohit Sharma hasn’t been relishing the captaincy of the national cricket team as his form has taken a beating since taking the reins from Virat Kohli earlier this year.

Rohit Sharma, who is known for his penchant for smashing hundreds and double centuries across all formats has had a dismal year so far to say the least.

While his highest score in Test cricket in 2022 is 46, he has even failed to get going in One-Day Internationals (ODIs).

Rohit Sharma loves this particular format and still, he could only muster 78 runs in three 3 games with the highest score of 60.

In the T20Is, he has floundered multiple times, having made 116 runs in six matches with an underwhelming average of under 20.

Even in the IPL, Rohit Sharma was found wanting as he couldn’t light up the elite T20 tournament with his performances with the bat.

It was one of the worst seasons for Rohit the batter as he finished the 2022 edition of the IPL with just 268 runs in 14  games with an average of less than 20.

Moreover, Rohit has already turned 35 and won’t remain India captain for long as soon age would start affecting his game.

It is often said that a player who is struggling for form can hardly inspire his teammates. It is very much the case with Rohit.

He seems to have been burdened with India’s captaincy and that’s why he should be freed from the responsibility.

Hardik being just 28 has the time with him to mature as a leader and as he’s bowling again, he’s a shoo-in in India’s teams across formats, making his case for ‘captain’ even stronger.