Shrugging off-field controversies, Hardik was in his element scoring 402 runs at a strike-rate of 191 plus and taking 14 wickets.
Hyderabad: Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma was well aware of Shardul Thakur's range of shots and that's why he wanted Lasith Malinga to bowl a slower delivery, which turned out to be a masterstroke in the thrilling IPL final.
Rohit had kept the on-side open to lure Shardul and then Malinga's slow in-dipper tailed in to catch Shardul plumb in front as MI beat CSK by one run in a pulsating final.
Having played first-class cricket for Mumbai with Shardul, Rohit knew how to bring about the youngster's downfall.
"The idea was to get the batsman out. So I know Shardul really well. I kind of understand where he wants to hit, so we decided together (Malinga and him) that we'll go for that slower option because knowing Shardul, he would try to play a big shot and there might be a chance that he might just sky it. Again, it could have gone either way," an elated Rohit said after the match.
Rohit was ready to carry the cross had the decision to use Malinga backfired but had a gut feeling that the Sri Lankan will be able to pull it off as Mitchell Johnson did in the 2017 IPL final.
Malinga repaid the faith his skipper showed in him defending nine runs off the final over.
"When the decision comes off, it looks all nice. It can backfire also. At that stage, I wanted to go with experience, with somebody who has been in such a situation before. And Malinga has been in that situation a million times. So we backed him to do that," the four-time IPL champion skipper said at the post-match media interaction.
The situation was eerily similar to Rohit had faced in 2017 final when MI beat the now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiants by one run in another thrilling finish.
Then it was former Australian pacer Johnson, who defended 11 runs in the final over to pull-off a one-run victory.
It was that deja vu moment for the MI skipper.
"I clearly remember when we won here in 2017, it was Mitchell Johnson who bowled that last over and defended only 10 (sic) runs. So yes, sometimes you've got to go with only instincts, sometimes you've got to go a little backwards and think what these experienced players have done and what they bring to the table," Rohit said.
For Rohit, the most important thing was going with experience as he remembered how he had handed the white leather to Johnson during the 2017 summit clash.
"It was thought when I went with Mitchell because he's been in that situation. He's an experienced bowler, a leading bowler. And even today, Malinga has been one of the finest T20 players that we've seen. We knew he could give us a chance of winning the game.
"Nine runs off the last over, anything can happen but you've got to back experience, and that's what we did," the skipper said.
India's limited overs vice-captain also became the first player to win five IPL titles with one of them coming with the defunct Deccan Chargers in 2009.
"Oh, I forgot that (title with DC). Yeah, it is five. It's so tough to take one out of the five. You see IPL is a very tough tournament to win. So I am not going to pick one. One with DC and four with MI, we've had exceptional seasons.
"I can't really pick one because every season has its own challenge. For me, all five, I will cherish and remember, and not pick one," he concluded.
After enjoying an amazing IPL season with Mumbai Indians where he enthralled the crowd with his prototype of 'Helicopter Shot', all-rounder Hardik Pandya has now trained his eyes on World Cup triumph.
Shrugging the off-field controversies, Hardik was in his element scoring 402 runs at a strike-rate of 191 plus and 14 wickets apart from 11 catches.
"I played well this season, but now time to move on. I want to lift that World Cup trophy as well," Hardik said in a flash interview on Star Sports after Mumbai Indians beat CSK by 1 run to lift their fourth trophy.
Hardik and elder brother Krunal were barely into their teens when IPL started in 2008 and it was a dream come true for them to have won the trophy together on two occasions (2017). Hardik has now been a part of three IPL winning teams.
"I used to have Mumbai Indians posters in my room growing up and to win with them. Amazing."
He was happy that Law of averages didn't catch up with Mumbai Indians, who had defeated CSK thrice in this edition (twice in league stages and then Qualifier 1).
"Lot of people were saying that we had won three times so they would win the fourth. But I told Krunal, no, it's going to be 4-0. I lost a few kgs today, such a tight game it was."
Brother Krunal had a hand with an accurate throw from the deep that got rid of Shane Watson.
"Unbelievable game. From childhood, we wanted to play good cricket together. Even when we weren't in the IPL, we wanted to play for Mumbai Indians."
For the elder brother, who is now India's T20 specialist, the younger sibling is the source of inspiration.
"He has been unbelievable. I don't need to look elsewhere for inspiration, I have Hardik."