Gujarat Titans thrashed Rajasthan Royals by 7 wickets in the IPL final on Sunday, with Pandya taking three wickets and scoring 34 runs.
It was the culmination of an extraordinary season that began with pundits criticising the team’s purchases in the player auction, questioning Pandya’s appointment as captain and predicting a dire outcome for the franchise’s first season.
But Pandya was a revelation in his first leadership role and was lauded for keeping a cool head, the precision of his decisions and field-settings throughout the tournament. He was also the leading run getter for his team this season and ensured that IPL has a brand new champion.
And not surprisingly, Pandya outshone others in a poll run by TimesofIndia.com in which fans voted for the best of the best in IPL 2022.
The first question was: Which opening batsman impressed you the most in IPL 2022?
The options were Jos Buttler, KL Rahul, Shubman Gill, Faf du Plessis, Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner.
Rajasthan Royals opener Jos Buttler, who won the Orange Cap for scoring 863 runs in the tournament, got the maximum number of votes – 5803. Buttler smashed an IPL record equalling 4 centuries and also hit 4 half-centuries in the tournament with a highest score of 116 at an average of 57.53 and a strike rate of 149.05. Buttler’s outstanding form with the bat was instrumental in Rajasthan Royals reaching the final.
Rahul (445 votes), Gill (148 votes), Du Plessis (97 votes), Dhawan (68 votes) and Warner (114 votes) finished way behind Buttler in the poll.
The second question was: Who was the most impactful Number 3 batsman in IPL 2022?
The options given were Sanju Samson, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Suryakumar Yadav, Rajat Patidar and someone else.
The unheralded and uncapped Rajat Patidar edged out the more famous names on the list, emerging as the unlikely hero by hammering a magnificent hundred to help Royal Challengers Bangalore edge out Lucknow Super Giants by 14 runs in the Eliminator. Patidar, who was only drafted into the side midway through the tournament as an injury replacement, smashed an unbeaten 112 off 54 deliveries.
Patidar polled 2056 votes whereas Tripathi and Samson got 1764 and 1428 votes respectively. 785 fans voted for Suryakumar Yadav, while 130 votes were in the favour of Rana. The someone else option got 508 votes.
The third question was: Which middle order batsman (No. 4 and below) stood out the most in IPL 2022?
The options were: David Miller, Hardik Pandya, Deepak Hooda, Liam Livingstone, Tilak Varma, Aiden Markram.
With 2264 votes, Hardik Pandya emerged as the winner here. Pandya scored 487 runs in the tournament and finished in fourth place on the highest run getters’ list. Pandya hit four half-centuries with a highest score of an unbeaten 87.
With 2093 votes, Pandya’s teammate Miller finished a close second while, the most expensive foreign purchase of the last player auction, Livingstone garnered 1367 votes to finish third. Varma (543 votes), Hooda (329 votes) and Markram (70 votes) ranked 4th, 5th and 6th respectively.
The fourth question was: Who was the standout wicket-keeper this season?
The options were MS Dhoni, Sanju Samson, Quinton de Kock, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant and Wriddhiman Saha.
Dinesh Karthik, who had a fine season with the bat for RCB in his new role as finisher, was also great behind the stumps and got the maximum number of votes – 2710, leaving behind De Kock (1204 votes), Dhoni (939 votes), Saha (723 votes), Samson (650 votes) and Pant (433 votes).
The fifth question was: Who was the most impactful bowler of IPL 2022?
The options were: Yuzvendra Chahal, Umran Malik, Wanindu Hasaranga, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Rashid Khan.
Umran made the world sit up and notice his tearaway pace and also earned a maiden Team India call-up, but it was Purple Cap winner Chahal who got the maximum number of votes here – 2363. Chahal took 27 wickets to finish as the leading wicket-taker in the tournament. Chahal registered a best of 5/40 and also took a hat-trick against Kolkata Knight Riders.
Umran, who took 22 wickets in the tournament to finish in fourth place on the leading wicket-takers list, got 1596 votes, followed by Rashid Khan (1315 votes), Hasaranga (906 votes), Shami (366 votes) and Kuldeep Yadav (121 votes).
The sixth and the last question in the poll was: Which captain was the best man manager and leader of IPL 2022?
The options were: Hardik Pandya, Sanju Samson, KL Rahul, Faf du Plessis, Rishabh Pant and someone else.
Pandya, who had won four IPL titles with Mumbai Indians before taking up the leadership role at Gujarat Titans, was a standout leader this season with his composed and deft leadership in the tournament which proved to be crucial in his team’s title victory in their maiden season.
Leading from the front in the final, Pandya took 3/17 to restrict Rajasthan Royals to 130/9 and then made a crucial 34 off 30 balls as Gujarat reached 133/3 in 18.1 overs.
So it was hardly surprising that the maximum number of votes – 4777 were polled in favour of Pandya, who was head and shoulders above everyone else in this category. Samson (643 votes) was second, Du Plessis (478 votes), Rahul (476 votes) and Pant (72 votes) came in second, third, fourth and fifth respectively. The someone else option got 208 votes.
The crowning of Gujarat Titans as IPL champions concluded another edition of the IPL that came to a glitzy end after two months of mind-boggling breakneck action. Two of the league’s most successful and popular franchises with nine titles between them, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, finished at the bottom. The expanded 10-team tournament witnessed the rise of the two debutant teams – Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants – with the latter also making the playoffs in their debut season.