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Gujarat Titans' Hardik Pandya walks back to the pavilion after his dismissal during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match against Chennai Super Kings at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. Image Credit: AFP

Gujarat Titans captain Hardik Pandya said the Indian Premier League’s new “Impact Player” rule makes his job difficult because there are several options to choose from.

For the first time in IPL’s history, teams this season will be allowed to make a tactical substitution with an Impact Player coming in to bat or bowl as needed.

Led by Pandya, Gujarat began their title defence with a five-wicket victory over four-times champions Chennai Super Kings in the season-opening match in Ahmedabad on Friday.

179 target

Chennai set Gujarat a target of 179 after Ruturaj Gaikwad scored a sensational 92, but his heroics went in vain as Shubman Gill’s 63, combined with late cameos by Rashid Khan and Rahul Tewatia, helped the defending champions seal a win.

Chennai’s Tushar Deshpande became the first Impact Player when he came in for Ambati Rayudu during their defence, while Gujarat’s Sai Sudharsan replaced New Zealand’s Kane Williamson and batted at no. 3 after he injured his knee while fielding.

“To be very honest, having this impact rule makes my job quite difficult because when you have too many options, you have to pick the right option, and I think because of this reason, someone will bowl less,” Pandya said.

Hard lengths

“I had to just pick and kind of back (my instinct), where I felt that going hard lengths was the plan for me, and it kind of worked, so yeah, some of the bowlers came late but they did the job for us.” Pandya also heaped praise on Afghanistan’s Rashid, who was named the Player of the Match for bagging two wickets and hitting a four and six in his unbeaten 10-run display which played a crucial role in Gujarat’s win.

“When you have Rashid Khan in your team, it gives you a sigh of relief,” Hardik said. “He can come and bowl and get you wickets and at the end of the day if you need some runs he’ll come and smack it and make our job easy.” Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said the team should have set a bigger target.

“Another 15-20 runs would have been good. We all know there would be a little bit of dew,” Dhoni explained. “We could have batted properly in the middle overs as opposed to trying to muscle the ball.”