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Pandya will be able to scale new heights: Captain Kohli

Hardik Pandya showed required intensity in his comeback game and is already on the road to redemption

By Our Bureau in Calcutta
  • Published 29.01.19, 3:24 AM
  • Updated 29.01.19, 3:24 AM
  • 3 mins read
Virat Kohli celebrates scoring 50 runs against New Zealand during their third one day international cricket match at Bay Oval, Tauranga, New Zealand, Monday, January 28, 2019 (AP)

Virat Kohli hopes all-rounder Hardik Pandya will come out a “better cricketer” and scale new heights after making a promising return from the suspension that followed his controversial remarks on a TV show.

Pandya did not get to bat but the 25-year-old bowled and fielded with purpose, taking two crucial wickets and a brilliant catch to send back home captain Kane Williamson.

The India captain, having earlier condemned the comments made by Pandya and K L Rahul on the chat show, reserved words of encouragement for the all-rounder.

“In life, there are only two ways to deal with a situation like that. Either you hit rock bottom or you can learn from the situation and see it as a motivation to make things right,” said Kohli after leading India to a series-sealing seven-wicket win over the Black Caps in Mount Maunganui on Monday.

“For a cricketer, there is nothing more dear than game. You put all your energy in the game, if you respect the game, the game will respect you back. There is no rocket science.”

The Indian captain said Pandya showed the required intensity in his comeback game and is already on the road to redemption.

“You don’t need do anything extra (in a situation like Pandya’s). Whoever comes out of it positive, his career can scale new heights, like we have seen with many cricketers in the past.

“I hope he goes on that right path and emerges as a better cricketer and I think he can do that,” said Kohli.

Pandya was sent back home from Australia earlier this month after BCCI suspended him and Rahul pending an inquiry.

Kohli said any team in the world would love to have Pandya.

“It is very very good to have him. He provides balance to the team. The way he bowled today showed that he went back and was practising his skills. You can tell with his intensity, he picked up two crucial wickets as well.

“He is someone who will give you those important contributions in all three departments. The team also looks much more balanced with him around. He is in a good head space and I hope he can continue with that,” added Kohli.

The debate for the No. 4 slot in the lead-up to the World Cup was reopened again with Kohli saying there are enough contenders to consider a more flexible approach. Kohli backed Ambati Rayudu at No. 4 in October but vice-captain Rohit Sharma suggested that Dhoni was better suited for the role.

“I think the last five games if you see, two in Australia and three here, I said No. 4 is still something we’re looking to solidify. But when Rayudu starts playing like that, you start feeling more confident about the batting line-up,” he said.

“Dinesh (Karthik) is in great form as well so he can step in at any time in case we need to shuffle the middle order at any stage. MS has been hitting the ball really well. So everyone’s in a good zone. I don’t feel after looking at the first three games we have a lot of things to worry about.”

Kohli felt having batsmen who accelerate through overs 30 to 40, especially while setting a total, could be a major point of difference in a one-day contest.

“When you’re chasing, you’re anyway going after a target that’s big… But when batting first, you don’t know how much to set. So that is up to the two people batting in the middle. Who is the guy who wants to take that initiative and who is the guy who wants to or has to bat till the end.

“I think it will boil down to communication but that’s definitely going to be a team goal not just for us but all around the world. You see the patterns of teams that are getting big scores, that is the window they’re targeting and get those 20-30 extra runs.”

Kohli has been rested from the final two ODIs of the series and he said he was happy with what he had seen from his players.

“The thing that stands out for me is the relentless intensity with which the guys have played all these three games, not relaxing after 2-0 up as well, which I think is very important. Now they’ve started to realise how to close series and how to capitalise when we have advantage in a series.

“The bowlers were as hungry as the first two games. (Mohammed) Shami running in... Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) bowling good areas. Hardik was really, really good today as well and those two spinners (Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal) are quality anyway. Overall I’m really very pleased with how the games have gone.”