T20 World Cup: Hardik Pandya finds old spark as India beat Bangladesh | Crickit

T20 World Cup: Hardik Pandya finds old spark as India beat Bangladesh

Jun 22, 2024 11:48 PM IST

Rohit Sharma's team ease to their second win in Super Eights Group 1, led by Hardik's 50* and Kuldeep Yadav's 3/19 in Antigua

This was a near-perfect outing for India. Perhaps more instructively for their aspirations going forward in this T20 World Cup, this was also a near-perfect outing for all-rounder Hardik Pandya. The 30-year-old smashed an unbeaten 50 off 27 balls and also claimed a wicket, starring in India’s 50-run victory over Bangladesh in Saturday’s Super Eight clash at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua.

India's Hardik Pandya plays a shot during the Super 8 Group 1 match against Bangladesh in the ICC Mens T20 World Cup 2024, at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Saturday. (ANI)
India's Hardik Pandya plays a shot during the Super 8 Group 1 match against Bangladesh in the ICC Mens T20 World Cup 2024, at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Saturday. (ANI)

The comprehensive display takes India closer to a semi-final berth in the T20 World Cup. Kuldeep Yadav also played a leading role with three wickets as Bangladesh were restricted to 146/8 in reply to India’s 196/5, but nothing will please the Indian team more than Pandya grabbing the limelight given the balance he offers as an all-rounder.

While Pandya isn’t the kind to ever betray a shortage of confidence, his belligerence with the bat will serve as reinforcement for himself as well as his detractors that he is still capable of causing mayhem in the slog overs. His big-hitting ability seemed to have dwindled a bit recently, with his position up the order for Gujarat Titans in IPL 2022 and 2023 requiring Pandya to bat differently. On his return to Mumbai Indians as captain this year, the hostile response from the fans seemed to chip away at his confidence.

But when Pandya goes deep in his crease, holds his shape and unleashes big shots at the back end of an innings, all these doubts take a backseat. Pandya’s brutal hitting was responsible for India adding 62 runs in the final five overs on Saturday.

Highlights India vs Bangladesh T20 World Cup 2024

The foundation was set by India’s openers making their intentions clear quickly. With Bangladesh beginning with spin, Rohit Sharma used the sweep to good effect for boundaries in the first two overs by Mahedi Hasan and Shakib Al Hasan.

Virat Kohli too was in good touch. He chose to immediately go after Shakib’s left-arm spin, clearing mid-on for his first six of the innings. In Shakib's next over, Rohit targeted the same region, shimmying down the track to get close to the pitch of the ball before lofting it handsomely into the grass bank. In what has been a pattern in recent times though, a fast start for Rohit didn't translate into a substantial score.

Till the time Kohli was in, he kept attacking. When Mustafizur Rahman was brought into the attack in the final over of the Powerplay, Kohli whipped a 135kph length ball over midwicket with those strong wrists for another six. Rishad Hossain was also made to feel unwelcome as Kohli launched the leg-spinner's first delivery into the sightscreen.

When Rishabh Pant hit his first four later in the over, it took India to a strong position at 71/1 after eight overs. That is when Bangladesh struck back with the wickets of Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav in the span of three deliveries.

Pant was subdued to begin with, taking 15 balls to reach 12. But he flicked a switch against Mustafizur in the 11th over. With the left-arm pacer operating from around the wicket, Pant began the over by slashing through cover for four. A heave through midwicket and a flick towards long leg yielded a six and another four respectively.

Pant took a liking to Rishad’s leg-spin too. A length ball was smashed over long-on, his bottom hand typically coming off the bat handle as Pant followed through with his shot. Off the next delivery, Pant swept through long leg for four. Just like India’s previous game against Afghanistan, however, Pant’s downfall was brought about by a reverse sweep that he didn't execute well.

With India on 108/4 in 11.4 overs at the time of Pant’s wicket, Bangladesh may have sniffed an opening. But Pandya and Shivam Dube added 53 runs in 34 deliveries to help India reclaim their strong position.

They dealt in singles for the first 16 balls, but once Pandya slapped Mahedi’s harmless off-break beyond the boundary, a flurry of fours and sixes followed. While Dube contributed three sixes to India’s total, the flamboyant finish came from Pandya who hit three fours in an 18-run final over by Mustafizur.

In reply, Bangladesh got to 35/0 before losing the wicket of Litton Das. Just before the dismissal, the opening batter had picked the bones out of a short ball by Pandya and sent it over deep midwicket for six. Looking for a repeat, Das picked out Suryakumar at deep square leg, seemingly oblivious to Pandya slowing the pace with an off-cutter.

Kuldeep made further inroads. He outfoxed Tanzid Hasan with a wrong ’un in the 10th over and trapped Towhid Hridoy leg-before in the 12th. Of foremost importance was Shakib’s dismissal. Having been hit for a six down the ground by Bangladesh’s most experienced batter, Kuldeep tossed the ball wider and lured him into getting caught at extra cover.

Bangladesh could never claw their way back into the contest and settled for being second best. For India, this was a job well done before they fly to St. Lucia for the clash against Australia on Monday.

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