The development of Hardik Pandya: “I don’t mind stepping in and taking on the MS Dhoni role”
To “give my team and the other [batter] greater calmness and the certainty that at least I’m there,” India’s temporary T20I captain said,
As a T20 cricket player, Hardik Pandya thinks he has improved so much that he can handle pressure and take on any position for his team. I could smash a six whenever I wanted, he declared at a press presentation around six years ago. Now that the game is more advanced, Hardik is “okay” to take a back seat and take on the role that MS Dhoni played near the end of his international career.
After helping India defeat New Zealand 2-1 in the series, Hardik stated, “See, to be honest, I’ve always enjoyed smashing sixes, but I have to develop and that is life. “I must take the opposite section where I’ve always favoured partnerships. I want to instil greater composure and the knowledge that at least I’m there in the other person and my team. I’ve participated in more games than any of those other guys. As a result, I have experience, but more than experience, it is from my time as a batter that I have learned how to deal with pressure, how to sort of swallow the pressure, and how to generally keep the team and everything else in check.
“In that case, perhaps I should decrease my strike rate or… I have always looked forward to accepting new possibilities or responsibilities. I have no problem stepping in and taking on the position that Maahi [Dhoni] formerly filled. I believe I was inexperienced and hitting everywhere in the park at the time, but since he passed away, that obligation has suddenly become mine. I just naturally thought of doing it, and I don’t mind. It’s okay since we’re receiving the outcome we wanted.”
On Wednesday, Hardik played that position with the bat, frequently feeding the strike to Shubman Gill, who was set up well, and allowing him do the big-hitting, even though Hardik had a strike rate of 176.47 for the game. In addition to improving as a bowler, Hardik is now routinely bowling the challenging overs for India during the powerplay while Jasprit Bumrah is sidelined due to injury. Hardik has bowled 12 overs in the powerplay since the start of the home season, giving up 86 runs for two wickets. Hardik stepped up with the new ball and swung it even in the most recent ODI in Indore when India rested some of their best bowlers.
Hardik stated, “I don’t want any new man to come and have that difficult task of [bowling first up with the new ball] because if they’re put under pressure, then we’re chasing the game. I had to bowl with the new ball [in T20Is] because Arshdeep [Singh]… Therefore, I’ve always taken the initiative and worked on developing my new-ball skills, which has aided me.
On the eve of the T20I series’ opening match in Ranchi, Hardik stated that he practises bowling in the powerplay while still using the new ball. India’s attack is now more adaptable because to Hardik’s ability to move the new ball, both in the air and off the seam, allowing them to backload the overs of Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik.
“I don’t mind coming in and playing the role which Maahi [Dhoni] used to play. I think at that time, I was young, and I was hitting all around the park, but now since he has gone, all of a sudden that responsibility… It has just naturally come to me, and I don’t mind [doing it].” – Hardik Pandya
Hardik had said in Ranchi, “I’ve always enjoyed bowling with the new ball. It has always been the new ball when I choose a ball from the nets over the course of many years. I don’t feel the need to practise much with the old ball because I’m so used to bowling with it. I can perform to the best of my ability whenever the team needs me to. I’ve found it useful personally. I had to be ready for the last game [the Indore ODI], when we had to rest our two key fast bowlers. When you are well-prepared, the pressure is absent.
“My attention is on white-ball cricket right now,” said Hardik Pandya.
Hardik, the interim T20I captain of India, has prioritised white-ball cricket over Test cricket because an ODI World Cup is slated for October to November of this year in India and a T20 World Cup is set for the Caribbean in 2024. Hardik has not participated in senior-level red-ball cricket in any capacity since undergoing back surgery in 2019. His final Ranji Trophy game and Test both took place at Southampton in 2018.
When I “feel [it] is] the perfect moment to play Test-match cricket,” Hardik stated, “I will come [back].” I’m going to concentrate on white-ball cricket for the time being, which is crucial, and if the conditions are right and my body is in good shape, I’ll try [the long format].