REVEALED: This is the reason why Hardik Pandya didn't play against KKR
The historic sight of Rashid Khan walking in ahead of the toss for Gujarat Titans (GT) on Sunday (April 9) made him the first-ever Afghanistan player to captain a team in the Indian Premier League (IPL). But also threw up a major question as to why the team's regular captain Hardik Pandya didn't come out for the pre-game ritual.
Pandya skipped the match versus the IPL 2023 league stage encounter against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) while asking Rashid, the team's appointed vice-captain, to lead the defending champions in their home game in Ahmedabad.
The premier India allrounder left a shocker on fans when he missed the match versus KKR, with Rashid coming out for the toss duties. It was before the flip of the coin that the stand-in captain revealed that Hardik Pandya has been rested since he is "unwell".
Hardik Pandya misses KKR clash feeling 'unwell'
The Afghan spin king officially disclosed the reason why Pandya missed the KKR encounter after the toss, which was won by the Titans as they opted to bat first. When asked by the anchor at the toss why GT's regular captain is missing the afternoon game in Gujarat, Rashid said the player is "slightly unwell" and has been rested for precautionary reasons.
"Just unwell slightly, don't want to take risks with him," Rashid explained on Hardik Pandya, who is missing Titans' clash with KKR due to health-related issues. The cricketer opted to rest Titans' third league-stage encounter of IPL 2023 to recover completely and rejuvenate his energies before the next match.
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After the game versus KKR, the Titans play on Thursday (April 13) against the Punjab Kings (PBKS) in an away fixture in Mohali. While Rashid, having done captaincy duties with Afghanistan at the international presents an able back-up, the Titans would want their regular skipper back, especially for the allround skill and balance he brings to the table.
In the interim, the franchise brought back utility cricketer Vijay Shankar into their playing XI as Pandya's replacement for the KKR game, as confirmed at the toss by Rashid. The Titans were eyeing their third win of the season after defeating Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Delhi Capitals (DC).