On the back of his IPL 2022 exploits, Hardik Pandya returned to action for India in the home T20I series against South Africa in June and impressed one and all with his batting performance lower down the order.
Hardik then lead Team India to a 2-0 T20I series win on the tour of Ireland and then followed it with a stellar all-round showing against England in a three-match T20I series.
The highlight of Pandya’s performance against England was his bowling. He returned with five wickets in the two T20Is that he played, including the match-winning spell of 4/33 in the first game at Southampton.
Hardik Pandya’s bowling certainly provides the Indian team a much-needed balance and it has been vindicated once again in the ongoing T20I series against West Indies. He has completed his quota of four overs in two of the three T20Is so far, registering the figures of 1/22 and 1/19.
After his stunning spell in the third T20I, Hardik declared that he can now bowl four overs in the shortest format as the “third or fourth seamer” instead of only performing the role of a part-time bowler.
“I have always enjoyed bowling whenever I was bowling. That was the reason I had felt I should take some time off so that my bowling comes in. I have realised that when I bowl it gives a lot of balance to the side, it gives a lot of confidence to the captain,” he said after India’s seven-wicket win in St Kitts on Tuesday (August 2).
“I used to bowl as a filler before in between if someone was not bowling, now I can probably say that I can bowl four overs as a third or fourth seamer where I can contribute equally as I do with my bat.”
Pandya further said that he had been working on adding more options to his bowling after being whacked around a few times.
“In bowling, it took me some time to understand my strengths and weaknesses. In T20 I got whacked a couple of times. But this sport is about that. If someone hits you and you are strong enough, chances are you are going to learn something. For me it was about how I could stop the batter from hitting me, and I was able to add more variations to my bowling and now I think it is coming pretty alright.”
With the victory in third T20I, Team India took a 2-1 lead in the five-match series. The penultimate game will be played in Florida on August 6.
(The Indian Express inputs)