Hardik Pandya had the chance to further elevate his stature as India’s new finisher when he came out to bat in the fourth ODI against West Indies. Chasing 189, India was reeling at 116 for 5 with Dhoni holding firm from one end. The last time Pandya walked out to in a similar situation during the final of the ICC Champions Trophy, he had played perhaps the best innings of his career albeit in a losing cause but the Indian team, nevertheless, needed a similar kind of knock from him.
And while his knock against Pakistan in the summit clash of the Champions Trophy was all about fours and sixes, the hard-hitting allrounder rightly adopted a cautious approach against West Indies. But just when it looked like he along with Dhoni would take India home, the 23-year old was cleaned up by Jason Holder for 21-ball 20, bringing an end to a promising 43-run stand.
India eventually fell short by 11 runs but instead of getting upset by the close loss, Pandya is taking it as a learning opportunity. Revealing the game-plan during the chase, he said both he and Dhoni were looking to take the game deep before going for the big shots.
“The conversation with MS was pretty simple to be honest. The power which we both have we thought to take the innings deep and then chase it down. Most times we would chase 31 off 29 balls but then we were not able to finish. I back myself to finish the game for the team and all these instances are part of the learning,” said Pandya at Sabina Park.
India is leading the five-match series 2-1 with one more match to go and Pandya said the team will come out with a fearless attitude in the last match in order to play its best cricket.
“We will be fearless in the final game. Last game was one of those games where it did not click. But we will go ahead and express ourselves, that is when we play our best cricket,” he added.
Pandya also revealed how he reacted after a terrible mix-up with Ravindra Jadeja had ended his 43-ball 76 runs knock against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy. The Baroda allrounder was absolutely furious and had vented his frustration on the ground before angrily storming into the dressing room.
“It took a lot of time. Only three minutes to be honest,” he quipped. “It was just an outburst. I get hyper quickly and after few minutes I was laughing in the dressing room. Looking at me, some of the players were laughing too.”
Pandya has not got much chance to contribute with the bat in the ongoing series but is contributing with the ball. So far, he has taken five wickets in four matches and is delighted with his performance.
“I am pretty happy with the way things are going for me. Both with bat and ball,” said Pandya.
“You should be brave enough to do the job that is required of you. I back myself to play in any situation. I see myself as a proper all-rounder and not bowling or batting all- rounder,” he added.
Pandya also said that captain Virat Kohli has helped him deal with the pressures of international cricket.
“He has helped a lot. I remember when I finished the game against England, it was a 43-ball 40. That day Virat told me that ‘international is like copy paste and you have to keep repeating your performances’. All these things I have kept in mind. He is a big influence on all the players,” said Pandya, who has played 16 ODIs so far.