‘After Virat Kohli, he’s the one in Indian team who wants the big occasions': Dinesh Karthik's high praise for Hardik
Dinesh Karthik said leading from the front comes naturally to Hardik Pandya. The former KKR captain, who has played a lot of cricket with and against Hardik at different levels, said the all-rounder is among the very few like Virat Kohli, who thrives under pressure situations.
Hardik Pandya's rapid rise as a leader in the Indian cricket team has a lot to do with his urge to take up the tough assignments, feels veteran wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik. Yes, Hardik has been excellent with both bat and bowl since recovering from his back injury and it is very hard to find his replacement in white-ball cricket but it is his eagerness to do the hard task and stand up as the leader, which has been the most impressive.
It was evident in his first major assignment as the captain of Gujarat Titans. He did not shy away from taking the new ball despite making a comeback from a back injury. He decided to bat at No.3 or 4 to allow the likes of David Miller and Rahul Tewatia to play the finishers' role.
Hardik has started to take up the same responsibilities even as captain India's T20I team. He more often than not takes the new ball in T20Is as India are missing the services of Jasprit Bumrah and have decided to give a break to Mohammed Shami. He bats at No.5 to be the glue between the top-order and lower-order.
Karthik said this comes naturally to Hardik. The former KKR captain, who has played a lot of cricket with and against Hardik at different levels, said the all-rounder is among the very few like Virat Kohli, who thrives under pressure situations.
"I think this (taking on the tough assignments) comes naturally to him. From whatever I've seen, he lives for those big games. After Virat (Kohli), if I've seen someone who wants those big games, I think it is Hardik Pandya. I think you'll have to put (Jasprit) Bumrah on that list as well but among the batters, I'd say Hardik Pandya loves the big occasion. That's why you won't see him too flustered about how he goes about his batting consistency. When it comes to bowling as well, he is somebody who wants to fill in those holes. If it is the middle overs, he will come up with the slower ones. If it is with the new ball, we saw in the Indore ODI as well that he can bowl really well with the ball," Karthik said on Cricbuzz.
Hardik, however, did not have the best of games in the series-opening T20I against New Zealand in Ranchi, which India lost by 21 runs. The all-rounder gave away 33 runs in his 3 overs and got out for 21 off 20 at a crucial juncture in India's chase.
"No one even thought that the wicket would play like that and both teams were surprised. But they played better cricket on this and that's why the result ended up like that. Actually, the new ball was turning more than the old one and the way it spun, the way it bounced, it caught us by surprise. But somehow we pulled it back and were in the game till Surya and myself were batting. In hindsight, I don't think this wicket was 177, we were poor with the ball and conceded 20-25 runs. It is a young group and we will only learn from this. The way he bowled, batted and fielded, it was Washington against New Zealand today. We needed someone who can bat and bowl, give us a lot of confidence and it will help us going forward," he said after the match.