‘Would have fancied to get 15 runs off last over, if needed’

India's Hardik Pandya gestures as he leaves the field after their win in the T20 cricket match of Asia Cup against Pakistan, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022. AP/PTI(AP08_29_2022_000001B)

Dubai, Aug 29: Stretchered off the field due to a career-threatening back injury against the same opponents at the same venue four years back, Hardik Pandya feels a “sense of achievement” after guiding India to a five-wicket win over Pakistan in their Asia Cup opener here.
Hardik was planning one over at a time and would have “fancied” his chances even if India needed 15 runs rather than the seven that they scored in the final over to win against Pakistan.
Pandya had a dream game, first scalping 3 wickets for 25 in his four overs and then finished the match with a six off Mohammed Nawaz, having scored 33 invaluable unbeaten runs off 17 balls.
India defeated Pakistan by five wickets on Sunday to go to the top of their group, that also includes Hong Kong.
“In a chase like this, you always plan over-by-over. I always knew that there is one young bowler (Naseem or Shahnawaz Dahani) and also one left-arm spinner (Nawaz),” Pandya said after the match.
“We only needed 7 off the last over but even if we needed 15, I’d have fancied myself. I know the bowler is under more pressure than me in the 20th over. I try to keep things simple,” said India’s No. 1 all-rounder.
As far as bowling is concerned, Pandya knew that he needed to mix short balls and induce batters into making mistakes.
“In bowling, it’s important to assess the situations and use your weapons. For me, bowling short and the hard lengths have been my strengths. It’s about using them well and asking the right questions to make the batters commit a mistake,” he said.
Hardik understands his game better since his comeback: Rohit
India captain Rohit Sharma feels Hardik has returned with a better understanding of his game and is more confident about what he wants to do with both bat and ball.
For Rohit, Hardik is a man, who now knows what he needs to do in specific situations.
“Since the time he (Hardik) has made his comeback, he’s been brilliant. When he was not part of the team, he figured what he needs to do to his body and his fitness regime, and now he is clocking 140+ easily,” Rohit said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“His batting quality we all know and it’s been brilliant since his comeback. He is a lot calmer now and more confident about what he wants to do, whether it’s with the bat or with the ball,” he added.
The fact that Hardik can bowl quick was on display on Sunday.
“He can bowl really quickly, we saw that today with those short balls. It was always about just understanding his game and he’s doing that well now. In a high-pressure with 10 runs per over needed, you can panic but he never showed any of that.”
Hardik credits Nitin Patel,
Soham Desai for comeback
“Happy to get this win because it was very important for us. Our nerves were checked, as a team we were challenged as well. Loved the way he (Ravindra Jadeja) came out and played as well,” Hardik said in video posted by BCCI.
“I was recollecting everything from being carried on the stretcher and the same dressing room. You feel a sense of achievement after all the things happened and again getting an opportunity today.” Hardik credited former Indian team physio Nitin Patel, who is currently the head of BCCI Sports Science, and current strength and conditioning coach Soham Desai for his successful comeback.
“That journey was very beautiful, we get the fruits of the journey but behind the scenes whoever has worked with me never get credit. So, I always believe in giving credit to the person who deserves. Nitin Patel, Soham Desai, I will give credit to them for whatever comeback I have made,” the all-rounder said. (PTI)