Hardik Pandya: 'Don't mind playing Dhoni's role' for India
- India defeated New Zealand 2-1 in the T20I series
- Hardik scored 30 runs and picked up 4 wickets in the third T20I
- India’s upcoming series is against Australia
India's stand-in captain Hardik Pandya has said he is OK with adapting to the role MS Dhoni used to play during the latter stages of his career.
Hardik recorded an all-round performance and helped India thrash New Zealand by 168 runs to win the three-match T20I series 2-1. The third game also saw Shubman Gill register his maiden T20I century, becoming only the fifth Indian batsman to score a hundred across formats.
In the third T20I in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, Hardik scored a 17-ball 30 and also picked up four wickets for 16 runs in his quota of four overs. The skipper was also named the Man of the Series.
Hardik, who is known for his explosive hitting, has been donning a controlled role these days. He is rotating the strike more and is letting his attacking partner continue their fine run.
Speaking at the post-match conference, Hardik said he decided to evolve his role as he wanted to give the team certain calmness while batting.
"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," Hardik told reporters after India's 168-run win.
Hardik also mentioned that he was willing to sacrifice his strike-rate for the above and was looking forward to taking up new roles with Team India.
"Maybe I have to get my strike rate down for that. Taking on 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," added Hardik.
Referring to Dhoni's role down the order with India, Hardik said that he is ready to do the same as the team is producing results.
"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 Hardik.
Hardik Pandya: 'In my captaincy, I back my gut'
After India's win in Ahmedabad, Hardik said he backs his gut and likes to keep it simple while leading India.
"In my captaincy, I look to keep it simple and back my gut. I have a simple rule - if I go down, I will go down on my terms. We've spoken about taking challenges. When we played the IPL final, we felt the second innings was more spicy but on this surface today I wanted to make it a normal game because it was a decider. Hence, we batted first. Hopefully, we can continue performing like this," Hardik said at the post-match presentation.
Team India has a week's rest before their home Test series against Australia. The first Test of the four-match Border-Gavaskar series is scheduled to begin on Feb. 9 in Nagpur, with the remaining games to be played in Delhi, Dharamsala, and Ahmedabad.