‘Even if Pakistan had 10 fielders outside, I’d have hit a six’: Hardik Pandya on last-over heroics in IND vs PAK clash
Such was Hardik Pandya's confidence that the all-rounder mentioned even if Pakistan had ten fielders on the boundary ropes, he would have still hit a six.
Hardik Pandya emerged as the star of the show in the Asia Cup 2022 clash between India and Pakistan at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday. The all-rounder executed fine performances in both the departments as India trumped the neighbours by five wickets in a nail-biting encounter, which saw Pandya wrap the proceedings with a huge six.
The chase was not very big, but Pakistan's clinical bowling kept them in contention until the final over. With seven required of the final over, Babar Azam ran short out of bowling options and was forced to hand the ball to a spinner - in this case Mohammad Nawaz.
The bowler started off strong and cleaned up a set Jadeja in the opening delivery of the final over. Dinesh Karthik, who joined the action for three balls, then passed the strike to Pandya in the second delivery and what followed next was sheer confidence.
The all-rounder played a dot in the third ball, which saw the equation get reduce to 6 runs off three balls, but Pandya gestured his partner Karthik at the non-striker's end to not worry and leave the task to him. He then whacked a length ball by Nawaz over the long-on fielder for a six as India completed the 148-run chase with two balls to spare.
Speaking with Ravindra Jadeja, with whom he stitched a 52-run partnership for the fifth wicket, Pandya said he was not at all feeling the pressure and was waiting for the moment to capitalise on the bowler's mistake. Such was his confidence that the all-rounder mentioned even if Pakistan had ten fielders on the boundary ropes, he would have still hit a six.
“Saath run mujhe kuch jyada badhe lag nahi rahe they, kyunki left arm spinner hain. Aur paanch fielder hain ussey mujhe kuch farak nahi padh raha tha. Kyunki agar dus fielder hote, dus fielder bahar hote, mereko toh maarna hi tha. (Seven runs didn't look like a mountain to me because a left arm spinner was on. And Pakistan had five fielders on the fence, but even if they had ten, or ten outside, I would have definitely hit a six),” said Pandya, leaving Jadeja in chuckles.
He continued further and mentioned that throughout his inning he only displayed emotions at one instance, which was when Jadeja was dismissed by Nawaz in the final over.
“Pure inning maine ek hi baar emotion dikhaya, jab aap out huye. Par generally bataun toh pressure nahi tha. Mere hisab se usko zyada pressure tha, main woh count kar raha tha ki woh ek mistake karein. (I only showed emotions once throughout the inning, when you were dismissed. But in general I was under no pressure, in fact I felt the bowler was under pressure, so I was waiting for an opportunity where he makes a mistake.)
“Kyunki aap pressure ko jis tareeke se handle karein uss hisab se aap execution kar sakte hain. Mujhe pata tha jis tareeke se usne fielder ko idhar kiye, mujhe pata tha woh back of length mein jayega hi. (The way you handle the pressure, is the way you execute stuff. I knew the way he set the field he would bowl me a back of a length delivery),” Pandya added.
Jadeja then interrupted the fast bowling all-rounder and said: “Agar middle mein laga toh bahar hi hain (If it connects in the middle, then the ball is sailing over the boundary ropes.”
Pandya scored an unbeaten 33 off 17 deliveries, and with the ball he scalped three wickets and conceded just 25 runs in his four-over quota. He was also named the Player Of The Match. Jadeja, who was the lone left-handed batter in the XI, also saw a promotion in his batting order and joined the proceedings at number four, while India were batting at 50/2 after eight overs. He went to score 35 off 29 balls, which featured two fours and the same number of maximums. With the ball, he bowled two overs and conceded 11 runs without picking a wicket.
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