Mumbai Indians all-rounder Hardik Pandya played a match-turning knock of 30-ball 40 runs against Punjab Kings on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi.
Pandya missed the first two games for MI after the IPL 2021 season restarted on September 19 and failed to chase against RCB in his last game.
Hardik Pandya’s late hitting helped MI beat Punjab by six wickets
The 27-year-old was in a different mode on a sluggish track at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium as he smashed four boundaries and a couple of sixes in his tremendous innings.
Pandya, who came in to bat at no.5, made just 12 runs from 16 balls at one stage, but things changed in the 17th overs bowled by Mohammed Shami. Shami started with a short ball that hit Pandya on his arm, and the batsman hit a six and a four in the same over.
Pandya smashed 16 runs off four balls in the penultimate over against Shami to finish the game for Mumbai Indians, who won their first match in the second leg of IPL 2021 in UAE.
Hardik Pandya shouldn’t be wasted at no.7: Ajay Jadeja
Former Indian batsman Ajay Jadeja feels that Pandya should bat up the order rather than batting at no.7 position. Jadeja feels that Pandya won’t be able to grow as a batsman in that position.
“Pandya’s batting is much more important than his bowling. If he wasn’t as destructive a batter, there was no way he would be in Mumbai Indians or the Indian team. It should be clear that he’s a batting all-rounder. His standout ability is with the bat,” Jadeja told Cricbuzz.
“Even if he doesn’t bowl, I believe that he has the rare ability as a batter. It shouldn’t be wasted at number 7. He won’t be able to grow as a batter in that position. If a batter has to grow, he has to be sent up the order.
“Now he’s shown he can do this while coming in early. He has the skill to bat in the middle overs. Wondering why Mumbai Indians are not sending him up the order. If they want to give Hardik some time in the middle, they should promote him up the order. His bowling is a bonus,” he added.
Mumbai Indians might have got something to breathe after a six-wicket win against Punjab, but there is more to be done for the five-time champions to push their case for the playoff berth.