Chetan Sharma on Hardik Pandya
Photo Credit: (ICC)

Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya said the ongoing T20I series against South Africa is the opportunity for him to express himself and push his case for the T20 World Cup squad in Australia later this year.

Hardik tasted major success with Gujarat Titans as their captain and led them to title triumph in the first season itself. The Indian all-rounder scored 487 runs with the bat, the fourth-highest run-getter in the tournament, and returned eight wickets with the ball.

Hardik Pandya returned in Indian colours for South Africa T20Is

Hardik earned his spot in India’s initial 18-member T20 World Cup squad for the five-match T20I series against the Proteas at home. After KL Rahul was ruled out of the series on the eve of the first T20I match on June 9, Hardik was elevated to Rishabh Pant’s deputy for the T20I series.

Hardik Pandya Yuzvendra Chahal
Hardik Pandya Yuzvendra Chahal. Image: Facebook

Playing his first game for India after seven months, Hardik slammed 31 off 12 balls in the first T20I in New Delhi to power his side to 211/4 in the first innings. The all-rounder’s firepower went in vain as South Africa rode on the brilliance of Rassie van der Dussen (75*) and David Miller (64*) to script their highest run-chase in T20 Internationals.

World Cup is the goal but this is the right platform to prepare for it: Hardik Pandya on India-South Africa T20I series

Hardik was part of India’s T20 World Cup squad last year in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) but his presence was questioned as he didn’t bowl enough due to fitness concerns.

“I am obviously very excited. Playing for the country has always been special. Coming after such a long break and coming back fresh gives me the opportunity to kind of show what exactly I’ve worked hard for. Doing well for the country is more important and it gives me immense pleasure,” Hardik told Star Sports. 

Hardik Pandya
PC- Twitter

“Every series or every game you play is as important as your last. For me, World Cup is the goal but this is the right platform to prepare for it. Cricket is going to come back to back so you always need to be in the rhythm. This series is a great opportunity for me to express myself. My roles will be changed, I won’t be the captain or batting higher up the order. This will be back to what Hardik has been known for,” he added. 

India will play South Africa in the second T20I match on Sunday (June 12) at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack.

Also Read: Harbhajan Singh Terms Hardik Pandya’s Captaincy For Gujarat Titans As “One Of The Biggest Revelations” Of IPL 2022