After yet another match-winning performance, Hardik Pandya has admitted that it doesn’t matter to him where he bats at #4 or #6 as long as he gets a hit out and keeps improving. He also added that Natarajan’s spell was influential in India restricting Australia to a below-par total in Sydney.
Yet another day in Australia where Hardik Pandya swept away the Australian bowling attack for a merry party. Walking in to bat at a crucial juncture in the game, Pandya effortlessly tonked the ball to all parts of the ground before taking up the mantle of finishing the game for the country, with relative ease. With two scores of 90 plus in the tour already, it was just a matter of time before the right-hander showcased his finishing skills for the country.
Following the 22-ball 42, where he hit three boundaries and two sixes, Hardik Pandya admitted that it doesn’t matter where he bats for the country, at No.4 or 6 as long as he gets the chance to improve himself. He also opined that with time, he has developed his batting and has now got the right opportunity to showcase his skills.
“I mean, to be honest, it doesn’t matter to me where I bat (be it at #4 or #6), I need to develop my game accordingly to the situation. I don’t mind batting at 4 or 6, be it playing deep or finishing games. Whatever the team requires, I believe that as a cricketer you have to improve yourself with time and I think I’m improving over time,” said Pandya in the post-match press conference on Sunday.
India’s past as a top-heavy side has been well-documented. However, for the first time in this series, with the absence of Rohit Sharma, the middle-order has got several opportunities to make a case for themselves, with Pandya’s headlining act with the bat. He reckoned that it was the first time the middle-order’s efforts have been highlighted following a series win.
“It can or cannot be (best form) but right now it’s getting highlighted because we have always been a top-heavy side. I think it is the first time we got an opportunity to do the job and we are doing it. I mean I’m in a pretty good zone and I’m trying to keep it neutral. I think with time, I’m not getting too excited about things.”
While the questions barraged about T20 cricket and his form in the IPL, Pandya stated that his biggest goal in the Indian colours was to finish games for the country and in situations where it really mattered. Twice in this series, the right-hander has sealed the game for India with his batting display, once bailing India out of trouble in the third ODI before his gobsmacking display took them over the line in Sydney.
“Absolutely we have played enough cricket and in franchise cricket, you have to step it up. Here the love for the country comes and people have carried their IPL confidence through here and have played well. My biggest goal was to finish games for India where it mattered the most and it is what I’m trying to do. I have talked a lot about it with Krunal and I feel like it’s my time to finish off games for the team.”
However, as in the presentation ceremony, the all-rounder was dead clear that the Man of the Match award should have rather been presented to Natarajan, who turned the fortune for the Men in Blue. With figures of 2/20 in four overs, the left-arm seamer restricted the Australian batting with his magical bowling.
“I actually thought Natarajan should be given the man of the match, I think it has become a batsman game. I think his bowling was instrumental in restricting Australia for 10 runs short and in the end, it mattered the most. He was just exceptional.”
While his batting has indeed seen a different level, Pandya was still grounded admitting that the Test format is a different ball game altogether but stated that he wouldn’t mind if he got picked as a specialist batsman.
“It is a different ball game, I don’t mind but ultimately the call is to the management for me to pick for the Test series."