Hardik Pandya: This is 'new India' with the freedom and talent we have
- India defeated WI by 88 runs in the 5th T20I
- India sealed the series 4-1
- Hardik led India on Sunday in Rohit’s absence
Hardik Pandya heaped praise on the Indian team, saying "this is new India" with the "kind of talent the players have and the freedom we have" after their victory over West Indies in the fifth T20I.
India defeated West Indies by 88 runs at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium Turf Ground, Lauderhill, Florida and finished the five-match series 4-1 on Sunday.
The visitors rested four key players, Rohit Sharma, Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. In the absence of Rohit, Surya, and Pant, Shreyas Iyer opened the innings with Ishan Kishan, becoming India's ninth opening pair in the T20Is this year.
Iyer top-scored for India in the first innings with his knock of 64 runs off 40 balls as the Men in Blue put up 188 for 7 in 20 overs.
"It is very special to get a chance to lead your country. And getting that chance and getting that victory means a lot to me as captain and an individual. I was just following our captain's roles," said Hardik after India's 88-run win on Sunday.
When he was asked if he sees himself as a permanent captain, the all-rounder replied," Yeah, why not? If I get an opportunity, I'll be more than happy to do that. We have a World Cup and Asia Cup now though, so we need to focus on that and use our skillsets there."
In their last 13 outings in the T20Is, Team India has suffered just two losses.
Speaking about what makes India consistent, Hardik said," The kind of talent the players have and the freedom we have. This is the new India how they are playing. They are expressing themselves well, and when you have the freedom you get more dangerous. The credit goes to the management and whole group to make that environment. They are not worried about whether they won't get picked or whether they will get dropped."
During the Windies' chase, the trio of Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, and Ravi Bishnoi wreaked havoc as they shared all the 10 wickets between them. It was the first instance in men's T20I where all the wickets were bagged by spinners.
"I wanted to make sure I gave Axar the new ball and wanted him to get the confidence back and bowl dots. I knew the kind of bowler he is, when he bowls tight he creates chances. Then the wrist spinners have some weapons that can trouble batters. I just hand to hand over the ball and told them to enjoy," Hardik added.
The T20 World Cup is scheduled to take place later this year in Australia. On being asked about how well India are prepared for the tournament, Hardik replied," Absolutely close. Just got to know how to keep getting better. Pressure and environment wise we are ready but in this sport, you never stop learning."
We were not good enough, says WI skipper Nicholas Pooran
Meanwhile, West Indies skipper Nicholas Pooran admitted that his side "didn't learn" and was not "good enough" against the Indian team.
"We weren't good enough. India came out aggressive, but as batters, we didn't learn. As bowlers, we are getting better, but we need to learn faster. It is a game of skills vs skills and today we weren't good. We didn't put partnerships together, except for Hetmyer. When you come against one of the top teams in the world then execution is important. We didn't come up with trumps.
"As a batting and bowling team, we have a lot to do. There's a lot of cricket to be played, lot of experience to be gained. Hope we learn as a team with these losses. We just won a series, we lost another series here, but we are building towards a World Cup and when we reach there we are ready to compete," added Pooran in the post-match presentation.
Speaking about Jason Holder opening West Indies' innings on Sunday, Pooran said," King and Mayers weren't playing today. We gave him an opportunity today. We know how well he bats. In hindsight, we could've played two spinners, something for us to think about. Both Hayden and Akeal are bowling well. Thank you to the fans in America."
The Indian team's next assignment is a tour of Zimbabwe to play three ODIs. Senior players such as Rohit, Pant, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Jasprit Bumrah are not a part of the travelling squad. Shikhar Dhawan will lead India in the ODI series in Harare, which is due to begin on Aug. 18.