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regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 July 2024

Dud in IPL, Hardik Pandya finds T20 World Cup rhythm bringing balance to the team

Ajit Agarkar stressed on Pandya’s value during the post-selection news conference in Mumbai saying there was 'no replacement' for him

Indranil Majumdar Calcutta Published 14.06.24, 09:57 AM
Hardik Pandya duringthe ongoing T20 World Cup, where he already hasseven wickets from three matches

Hardik Pandya duringthe ongoing T20 World Cup, where he already hasseven wickets from three matches AP/PTI

Almost a month into the IPL, selection committee chairman Ajit Agarkar, head coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma got together for an impromptu session to finalise the blueprint for the T20 World Cup.

While the crux of the XV had almost been decided, Hardik Pandya’s performance left them distraught. The all-rounder hadn’t been bowling and the powers-that-be made it clear that he needed to bowl regularly to merit a place in the side.

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Agarkar stressed on Pandya’s value during the post-selection news conference in Mumbai saying there was “no replacement” for him. Rohit harped on the “balance” factor since Pandya getting through his quota of overs allowed the team the liberty to play an extra spinner or a batter.

The team management’s game plan has paid rich dividends in the first three matches of the tournament. Pandya has acted as the perfect foil to Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Arshdeep Singh at the Nassau County International Stadium, New York.

Lack of success in the IPL never dented his confide­nce and he has regained his rh­ythm with seven wickets in three games, the joint highest for the team with Arshdeep. Pandya’s economy of 5.41 is only next to Bumrah and Siraj.

Two key wickets against Pakistan — Fakhar Zaman and Shadab Khan — allowed India to wrest control in the middle overs. The way he made use of the short-pitched delivery on Wednesday to get rid of USA big-hitters Aaron Jones and Corey Anderson was also exemplary.

The think-tank had an eye on him right through the IPL. “...he has confidence in his ability,” bowling coach Paras Mhambrey said. “Sometimes there’s no rhythm in a tournament. Sometimes, even if
you try, the rhythm doesn’t come. It takes time. I think that was a phase where the rhythm didn’t come.”

Pandya though remained positive right through the horror show in the IPL. “Sometimes life puts you in a situation where there are various problems. If you leave the field in such circumstances, you will not be able to get what you want,” was his philosophical take during a recent chat on Star Sports.

“Yes it has been difficult but I have remained process driven... This sort of phase happens in life. I have gone through it many times... I don’t run away from difficult times, I keep my chin up and face it.”

With early starts scheduled in the West Indies, Pandya’s role could be more significant. Considering the slow nature of the wickets there, he could be the third seamer in case India need to accommodate an extra spinner in the XI. The vice-captain will be ready to take it head on in the knockout stages.

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