Ahmedabad: Gary Kirsten, the mentor of Gujarat Titans, was understandably a happy man after the side defeated Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in front of a roaring home crowd of 1,04,859 at the Narendra Modi Stadium Sunday.
In a tournament which almost ran for two months, Gujarat made big splashes by being the most consistent side, topping the table, securing a direct ticket to the final and eventually winning the trophy.
“It’s fantastic, really happy for the guys, they’ve put a lot into the tournament, great for Ashish (Nehra, head coach) and Vikram (Solanki, director of cricket) as well. You’re looking for good balance, good depth in the auction but most importantly you’re looking for players who can different roles, the one thing we’ve learnt with Ashish is finding guys who were versatile, and at 4, 5 and 6 – we’ve got that,” said Kirsten to broadcasters Star Sports after the match.
For Gujarat, there were different players who stood up at various moments to take the side home, something which pleased Kirsten.
“We all got energy out of it, we’ve had a great bowling attack – through the end we went a bowler strong and a batter light, but we were always confident, just to get good balance in the team. Sai Kishore came into the team as a left-arm spinner and did really well as well.”
Asked about his experience of working alongside captain Hardik Pandya, Kirsten had words of appreciation for him.
“He has been fantastic; I’ve looked working with him. He’s a high-profile player in India but he’s incredibly humble, wanting to learn as a leader and engage with his players which I thing is really, really important. He’s tried to help the youngsters, he’s come in and played a different responsibility. You never stop learning as a coach, every IPL is a learning experience, that’s what I enjoy.”
Apart from Pandya, Kirsten also enjoyed his reunion with Ashish Nehra, after being together at Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2019. “I’ve loved working with Ashish, he’s really strong tactically – trying to put a game plan together on the fly is not easy. There are so many variables in each game, but what I’ve enjoyed has been the responsibility players have taken to win games for us.”
Kirsten signed off by saying that it was ironic for them to win the trophy at their home ground, where they kicked off their pre-season training in March. “It is amazing to win in our first season. We came out here pre-season to do a bit of training and it was empty, you could hear an echo here, so it is great to come back and get a full stadium.”