Ahead of the Qualifier 1 of the IPL 2023, Gujarat Titans (GT) skipper Hardik Pandya has paid tributes to Chennai Super Kings (CSK) captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and said he will always be a Dhoni fan, adding that one needs to be a proper devil to hate the former Indian captain.
Hardik's GT will lock horns with Dhoni's CSK in the first Qualifier on Tuesday evening at Chepauk. Both teams have shown consistency in picking the same XI and played good cricket throughout the season.
"A lot of people think Mahi is serious and all that. For me, I crack jokes and I don't see him as Mahendra Singh Dhoni," Hardik said in a video posted by GT on social media.
"Obviously, I have learned a lot of things from him, a lot of positive things, which I've learned from him just while watching, not even much talking. But for me, he's just my dear friend, dear brother, who I do pranks, who I chill with.
"I'll always be a Mahendra Singh Dhoni fan, and for so many fans out there and so many cricket lovers. You need to be a proper devil to hate M S Dhoni," he added.
Hardik led GT won 10 of their 14 games in the group stages, and ended on top spot on the points table, with 20 points to their tally and a net run rate of +0.809.
On the other hand, Dhoni's CSK won eight of their 14 games this season, and ended in the second position on the points table, with 17 points to their tally and a net run rate of +0.652.
These two teams met only once in the group stage of IPL 2023, where GT won by five wickets. Overall, these two teams have met thrice in the history of IPL so far, where GT managed to win all three games.