After the series win, Pandya revealed that he was happy to play ‘Mahi’s role’.
There is much more to Hardik Pandya than being a six-hitter. That of his development as at least a T20 cricketer has been on display for a good year’s time. Having taken charge as captain of the Gujarat titles last year and has since embraced the responsibility that comes with being the most experienced player in the team. Even if for this Pandya has to improve his game. For the benefit of the team as they did in IPL 2022 in the middle-order of the titles to win the title.
In the series-deciding clash against New Zealand in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, Pandya struck at a strike-rate of 176 but a good part of his 17-ball innings consisted of rotating the strike to Shubman Gill, who worked his way through. 126* in 63 – Highest score by an Indian batsman in men’s T20Is. After the series win, Pandya revealed that he was happy to play the ‘role of Mahi’ that MS Dhoni played in the white-ball teams in the latter years.
To be honest, I enjoy hitting sixes, but I have to grow,” Pandya said. “I have to take the other side where I always believe in partnerships. I want to give more peace and assurance to my team and the other person. That at least I’m there. I’ve played more of those games. So, I know experience and more than experience, this is where I’ve batted, and I’ve learned how to work under pressure and I have learned how to handle pressure and how to make sure the team is calm.
Thus, maybe I will have to lower my strike rate or take new opportunities which I always look forward to. I don’t mind playing the role that Dhoni used to play somewhere. I think at that time, I was young, and I was hitting around the pitch, but since he’s gone, all of a sudden that responsibility. It naturally comes to me, and I don’t mind doing it. . We are getting the result we want.
The new more responsible version of Pandya has made a mark on the bowling front as well. Jasprit Bumrah is currently missing due to injury and Bhuvneshwar Kumar is no longer a part of the team. Pandya has backed himself to bowl in the Powerplay.
His wickets of Finn Allen and Glenn Phillips in the first two overs effectively closed the door on New Zealand earning him the Player of the Series award.
Hardik said, “I will come when I feel it is the right time to play Test match cricket.” I am focusing on white-ball cricket, which is important, and if the time is right and the body is fine, I will try the longer format.”
I had to bowl with the new ball in T20Is because Arshdeep doesn’t want someone new to come in and take on that tough role of bowling in the powerplay because if he is put down then we are chasing the game,” Hardik said. So, I have always led from the front and I am working on my new ball, which is helping me.”
It has been a good four-and-a-half years since Pandya last paid off for India’s whites in one of the game’s longest-running careers.