IND vs WI – 2022 – Basseterre

After starting his international career as a backup bowling option, Hardik Pandya now believes he can do the job as a frontline seafarer. Aside from Arshdeep Singh, Hardik is the only navigator in India to have achieved his full quota of four overs in each of the three T20Is so far in the Caribbean. On Tuesday, on a used base of Basttere, Hardik handcuffed the big hitters of the West Indies with a mix of slower dropouts and quick deliveries.

“Obviously I’ve enjoyed bowling,” Hardik said after India took a 2-1 lead. “Again, I’ve mentioned it several times, that’s why I felt I should take some time off to make sure my bowling is going well, because I’ve realized that when I bowl, it gives a lot of balance to the side; it gives a lot of confidence to the captain.

“Yeah, I used to bowl. I was a filler in between when someone isn’t bowling well. I can probably say now I can bowl four overs as a third or fourth seamer where I can contribute just as much as I do with the bat .”

When Hardik was introduced on offense in the third T20I, the West Indies were 32 for 0 in four overs, with Kyle Mayers dominating the early exchanges. After seeing Mayers hit his short ball over midwicket at pace with the high winds, Hardik broadened his lines, varied his pace more regularly and challenged the batters to hit against the wind.
Hardik sent Brandon King’s leg stump into the field like a cartwheel with a slower cut-off, then defeated Mayers three times in a row in the tenth by taking his knives away from the left-hander’s reach with his sharp angle from over the wicket. He finished with numbers 1 for 19, and after India took a seven-wicket victory, even Mayers admitted that Hardik and India had used the conditions better than the West Indies.

“For me, it’s the approach I take,” Hardik said. “I understood that if you enjoy life and are in a state of mind where you are positive, the result often ends up coming your way. So for me it’s not about the result. It’s about how I take the game, how smart I think and how to make sure I use the situation and condition[s] who offers me something with the bat or the ball.”

India’s captain, Rohit Sharma, was impressed with how Hardik and R Ashwin worked in the midfield to contain Nicholas Pooran and the other middle class.

“How we bowl in the middle overs [was pleasing]said Rohit. “I think that was very, very crucial, because they were about to get so big [opening] partnership and with some of their experienced players hitting in the middle and I thought we used the conditions really well. We used our variations quite well and how we chased the runs I thought it was quite clinical.”

‘Responsibility adds more flair to my game’

The appointment of T20I’s vice-captain for the West Indies tour has taken his game to a new level, Hardik said. Earlier this year, he led Gujarat Titans to IPL glory in their first season, then oversaw India’s 2-0 sweep of a spirited Irish side in Malahide.

“I’ve always enjoyed responsibility and it has added more and more to my game,” said Hardik. “Every time I’ve taken responsibility it has added a little more flair to my game because it makes me think more and when I think more it just adds more value to my cricket.”

Hardik also praised Rohit for building a team environment that gave players – even those on the bench – safety, echoing Dinesh Karthik’s comments from the T20I series opener in Tarouba.

“Of course, very privileged to have the opportunity to be vice-captain,” Hardik said. “If the captain gives you a lot of flexibility and a lot of freedom, which is his strength during his captaincy, when I’ve played with him… team together and make sure a lot of positive mentality comes in and at the same time players feel safe. They don’t look over their shoulder, make sure they get plenty of opportunities, and they’re told that when they’re not playing.”

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