Hardik Pandya was at the top of his game as India registered an emphatic seven-wicket victory over England in the third and final Twenty20 Internationals in Bristol on Sunday (July 8).
The Baroda all-rounder claimed 4 for 38 in his 4 overs and scored a handy 33* off 14 balls at the crucial juncture of the match to help the Men in Blue seal the T20I series 2-1. However, Pandya’s day hadn’t started positively with Jason Roy thrashing him all over the park and accumulating 22 runs in his first over.
Addressing the media after the match, Pandya said: “To be honest, when I went for 22… T20 format, it is a funny game. You need to back yourself and come and bowl the best balls. I remember, after getting hit for 22, I was still normal. Krunal, my elder brother, told me, it’s ok, you are going to do it. I said the game is like that, if you come and bowl in the right areas and if you take wickets on this type of pitch or ground, eventually you will stop runs. My focus was just that I bowl different balls and keep it simple rather than just yorker or bowling length. The shortest boundary was the straight one. If I miss my length with the yorker, it will go. So I kind of mixed it up.”
“When I bowl in the shorter formats, I try to think as a batsman. Generally when I am bowling, batsman are going hard at me in this format. I try to think as a batsman and I try to outwit them. Some days it works, some days it does not work but most of the time it works and when it works, it looks good. When it does not, it does not look good. The freedom from the support staff really helps, the players are all backing each other. In the end, it is a sport. Sometimes you will do well, sometimes you won’t. I try to look at it that way. When good days don’t come, then I work even harder,” he added.
When asked if this was his best outing to date for India as an all-round cricketer, Pandya remarked: “Yeah, you can say so. But obviously, I would have loved to restrict them. I gave away 38 runs. In the first over, I wanted to give less runs. Yes, you can call it my best performance but it does not matter. In the end, even if I give away 50 runs and don’t take a wicket but the team wins, then I am more than happy. I don’t play for my own performance.”
Besides Hardik, Rohit Sharma also played an instrumental role in India’s T20I series win. The stylish right-hander smashed an unbeaten ton (100 off 56 balls) as India chased down the daunting target of 199 with 8 balls to spare.
With this innings, Sharma also became the first Indian and second batsman in the history of T20I cricket to score three centuries in the shortest format. Only New Zealand opener Colin Munro has accomplished this feat.
Pandya, who played second fiddle to Sharma after the departure of skipper Virat Kohli, was in full of praise for his Mumbai Indians captain.
“Rohit played an outstanding innings. Not having two good games and coming and playing like this is special. That shows that the confidence the players in this team have is incredible. They are all backing themselves and it all comes back to the team because we give each other the support that we all require. When your team is with you, you eventually do well,” Hardik asserted.
“Rohit everyone knows, is just magical. He finished it off single-handedly. We all expect that from him. I haven’t seen anyone strike the ball like Rohit Sharma,” he concluded.
Following the T20I series win, the upbeat India side will now take on England in a three-match One Day International series, starting on Thursday (July 12).