‘Since MS Dhoni’s gone, that responsibility is on me’: Hardik Pandya on facing new challenge

India, captained by Hardik Pandya, completed a 2-1 T20I series win over New Zealand by clinching a 168 runs win in the third match at Ahmedabad on Wednesday. Hardik was named the player of the series for scoring 66 runs and taking five wickets in the three-game series.

In India’s massive win in the last match, Hardik took four wickets as New Zealand were bowled out for 66 after India posted a mammoth 234/4. Hardik also scored a quick-fire 30 off 17 in Ahmedabad. He was also part of the 103-run partnership with Shubman Gill who scored 126 not out, his first T20I century.

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Hardik generally likes to play the role of the aggressor but in his partnership with Gill, he was happily playing the role of the second fiddle. It’s has been a change witnessed in Hardik’s batting since he returned to competitive cricket last year after an injury break. Hardik spoke about the change in his batting after the match.

“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,” Pandya said in the post-match press conference.

“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.”

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Pandya also shared that he is trying to play the role that former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni played towards the end of his career. The role to rotate strike, help teams build partnerships and help batting partners express themselves.

“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,” said Pandya.

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