• Wednesday, March 22, 2023


‘Don’t mind playing the role of Dhoni,’ India captain Hardik Pandya says after winning New Zealand T20 series

India cricketers Hardik Pandya (L) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni in 2019. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

Hardik Pandya added yet another feather in his captaincy cap on Wednesday (1) when India thrashed New Zealand by 168 runs in the third T20 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, to clinch the three-match series 2-1. It was his second successive series win as the captain this year after the 2-1 win over Sri Lanka in January.

After the match, Pandya, who excelled with both the bat and ball and bagged the player of the series award, said he had to tweak his game as per the team’s requirement and also suggested that his role is similar to that played by former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the later stages of his career when he adapted to circumstances.

Coming in at No.5, Pandya slammed 30 off just 17 balls with one six and four fours to add 103 runs with unbeaten centurion Shubman Gill (126 not out off 63 balls) in less than seven overs to take India to a strong total of 234 for 4 in 20 overs. The Kiwis were never in the contest while chasing and bowled out for a paltry 66 in 12.1 overs with Pandya taking four wickets for only 16 runs after opening with the ball.

“I’ve always enjoyed hitting sixes. But that’s life, I’ve to evolve. I’ve believed in partnerships and I want to give my batting partner and my team some assurance and calmness that I’m there. I’ve played more games than any of these guys, I’ve learnt how to accept and swallow pressure and make sure everything is calm.

“Maybe I have to get my strike rate down for that. Taking new roles is always that I look forward to. I want to take the new ball role too, because I don’t want anyone to come and take that difficult role. If they’re under pressure, then we are chasing the game. I want to lead the front. I’ve been working on my new ball skills,” Pandya, 29, said in the post-match press conference.

“I don’t mind playing the role that somewhere down the line, Mahi used to play. At that time, I was young and hitting all around the park. But since he’s gone, all of a sudden, that responsibility is onto me. I don’t mind that. We are getting the results. It’s okay if I have to play a little slow,” he added.

India will next take on Australia in a four-match Test series starting February 9, followed by three one-day internationals in March .

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