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Hardik Pandya: Captaincy has strengthened my game, makes me think more
- Hardik has 50 T20I wickets and 500+ runs
- He is the first-ever Indian to that double in T20Is
- India are 2-1 up in the 5-match T20I series vs WI
India all-rounder Hardik Pandya has said his recent stints as captain have strengthened his game as it makes him think more.
In the absence of senior players such as Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, and Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik captained India to a 2-0 T20I series victory in Ireland. Before that, he had led Gujarat Titans (GT) to the Indian Premier League (IPL) title in their maiden season earlier this year.
"I've always enjoyed the responsibility and it has added more and more to my game. It has added a little more strength to my game because it makes me think more. When I think more, it just adds more value to my cricket," said Hardik in the press conference after India's seven-wicket win on Tuesday.
India went 2-1 up against West Indies on Tuesday with two more games remaining in the series.
WI vs IND: When I bowl, it adds balance to the side, says Hardik Pandya
Hardik finished with figures of 1 for 19 in his quota of four overs but could manage just four runs in India's chase of 165. The all-rounder has been bowling regularly off late and that has paid off for Team India. The wicket that he picked up in the third T20I against West Indies at Warner Park, St. Kitts, made Hardik the first-ever Indian to the double of 50 wickets and 500 runs in T20I cricket.
"I've enjoyed bowling. That is why I felt I should take some time off to make sure my bowling comes in. When I bowl it adds a lot of balance to the side, and it gives a lot of confidence to the captain. When I used to bowl before, I used to be a filler when someone was not bowling well. But I can proudly say now that I can bowl as a third seamer or a fourth seamer where I can contribute as equally as I do with the bat," added Pandya in the same interview.
After Rohit Sharma walked away retired hurt during India's chase in the third T20I, his opening partner Suryakumar Yadav took charge and produced a match-winning knock of 76 off 44 deliveries. He struck eight fours and four sixes as he scored the runs at a strike rate of 172.73.
"Surya is someone who is an exceptional player. When he plays certain shots you are in awe. Today he played some amazing shots. The wicket was not that easy, compared to when we were bowling. A lot of credit goes to him. He has worked hard. He is getting his due late in his life but God is kind to him and he is getting the maximum," said Hardik in
Hardik also credited skipper Rohit and head coach Rahul Dravid for the change in approach in the third T20I.
"About the approach... credit goes to Rohit and coach. Yesterday we were all having a chat - how to go about the wicket? This wicket is slow. Do we still continue the style of play? The credit goes to him [Dravid], he gave us the freedom, and said 'You know what, forget about the result, we are trying something new and we will make mistakes, we're gonna learn from them'. What we've been doing for 5-6 years, we are going to get away from that.'
"We got to make sure we try everything we can and know exactly what are our scoring options when it comes to the T20 World Cup," added Hardik.
One of the Indian players who was massively criticised after the last T20 World Cup was Hardik as India had failed to qualify for the semi-final.
Ahead of the T20 World Cup 2022, which is scheduled to be played in Australia in October-November, Hardik now brings the much-needed balance in Team India, now that he has begun to bowl regularly.
"The things which I worked on...it's all about following the process, making sure the routine I have set the last six months, I don't change much. I'm keeping cricket as a priority. A lot of things are looking good as the results are coming my way but it's the approach that I am following.
"I understood in my life that if you enjoy life; be in a frame of mind where you're positive, a lot of time the results go your way. For me, it's not about the result, but how I take the game on, how smart I'm thinking and how I can make sure that I use the condition and the situation that is offering me - something with the bat or ball," the Indian all-rounder added further.
WI vs IND: Will continue to smile regardless of my performances, says Hardik Pandya
Speaking further about the upcoming ICC event, Hardik said, "The last World Cup was different, this World Cup is different, but the process has been the same. The form is at times there sometimes not there. But I have said many times, that I have maintained a balance in life - I will continue to smile regardless of how I perform."
The 28-year-old Baroda cricketer said that he was "Very privileged to get the opportunity to be even vice-captain" for the ongoing Caribbean tour before further praising Rohit for giving a "lot of flexibility and a lot of freedom."
"With the captain, Rohit gives you a lot of flexibility and a lot of freedom, which is his strength throughout his captaincy stint whenever I've played with him. A lot of credit goes to him and Rahul Dravid for the way they have got the team together, a lot of positive mindsets comes in.
"At the same time, the players are feeling secure, they are not looking over their shoulders. They are getting ample chance and they are being told if they're not playing. Coming to the captaincy bit, "added Hardik.
India and West Indies will now head to Florida for the fourth and the fifth T20I. The fourth game will be played on Aug. 6 at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground, Lauderhill.