Birmingham [UK]: Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who played a brilliant cameo of 20 runs off just six balls against Pakistan in their Champions Trophy encounter on Sunday, has admitted he was under pressure in the much anticipated, high octane clash against the arch-rivals.
“Honestly I won’t lie, pressure was there,” Pandya told ICC at Edgbaston in Birmingham after India’s 124-run win (via DLS) to kick off its Champions Trophy defence successfully at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Birmingham.
“But still at the back of my mind, I was thinking of it as a normal game because I didn’t want to take unnecessary pressure. In any game, I wouldn’t want to take unnecessary pressure on myself because that makes you do something that you are not supposed to do.”
“Even this game, I was keeping pretty normal. I was pretty calm, composed. I tried not to think of it as a big match as well, just take it as a normal game, an important game for India like any match we play. And eventually we did pretty well and won it,” he added.
The 23-year-old was chosen to go in ahead of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a One-Day International legend, and Kedar Jadhav, who has built a growing reputation as an inventive and big-hitting limited-overs batsman.
The reasoning was simple: Pandya has the ability to smash the ball from the get-go.
And that is what he did. He took a single off his first ball – in the 47th over of an innings reduced to 48 – and was facing up to Imad Wasim’s left-arm spin in the last over. The first ball was in the slot, full outside off, and Pandya promptly sent it sailing over long-off.
The next ball was wider, but on a similar length, and was hit with even more power over the ropes. The third ball was all about Pandya showing his power-hitting ability, slog-sweeping over midwicket to have three sixes in three balls.
It gave India a rousing finish, with 23 runs eventually coming off the final over and taking the total to a daunting 319 for 3. Pandya’s contribution was an unbeaten 20 that came off a mere six deliveries.
“I got to know in the 46th over, when coach told me, ‘You will be going next, go pad up.’ Obviously, I padded up quickly and once I got my gloves, I went out straightaway because Yuvi paa got out,” he said.
Pandya had a good outing with the ball too, taking 2 for 43 in eight nippy overs, snuffing out the last bit of Pakistan’s resistance with the wickets of Sarfraz Ahmed, the captain, and Wasim. (ANI)