India began their T20 World Cup campaign with a thrilling win over Pakistan, thanks to Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya. Although it was purely a Virat Kohli show, but Hardik’s performances in both departments were equally significant. He had a good 40-run knock and also took three wickets. Everything was going well for the Indian team until yesterday, when they met the Englishmen in the semi-finals.
The Mumbai Indians have been well known as the franchise that produces players. Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav, Krunal Pandya, and the formidable all-rounder Hardik Pandya have all represented India at the highest level.
The all-rounder made his IPL debut in 2015 as a 22-year-old, and who would have thought that he will finish games for India. His 63-run semi-final innings against England last night underlined how destructive he can be against any side in any game. India were 75 for three in the 12th over when he came to bat and hammered five massive sixes and four fours to help India reach a decent total of 168. However, Jos Buttler and Alex Hales had completely different intentions and outperformed the entire Indian bowling unit.
What makes Hardik Pandya’s innings so important for the future Indian team?
The man who learnt to walk again, began to smash the balls out of the grounds again, has come a long way. Hardik Pandya is a name that every Indian knows. Even the youngest children want to be like him, demonstrating how far he has gone in such a short period of time.
In 2018, he suffered a back injury and was unable to play for several months, and even when he returned, he was not totally fit to bowl. He was also banned for a few months by the BCCI owing to a controversy, but he survived everything and began working on himself.
In 2020, India toured Australia in which Hardik played as a pure batter and single-handedly won the T20I series for India. He also featured in the T20 World Cup 2021, but was ineffective with the bat, which resulted in the elimination of the Indian team in the Super 12s.
Kung-Fu-Pandya took a break from cricket after the T20 World Cup 2021 to focus on himself for 5-6 months before returning to captain the Gujarat Titans in the IPL 2022. Not only did he lead them, but he also guided them to their maiden IPL title in their inaugural season. He was one of the highest scorers and also had a few wickets under his belt.
After winning a trophy, he was eager to do the same with the national team, which he eventually did. He started contributing with both bat and ball like he used to do earlier and helped India win the first match of the tournament batting alongside Virat Kohli. This one was a slow and steady innings and exactly what the team needed at that time.
And in the semi-final last night, we saw the old Pandya, who used to smash sixes at will. He made 13 of the first 15 deliveries before accelerating and went on to score 50 runs in the next 18 deliveries, which were simply the best 18 deliveries he has ever faced considering the magnitude of the game. Although India lost the match due to poor bowling efforts, Hardik Pandya’s innings cannot be questioned.
The BCCI is ready to prepare Hardik for the captaincy of the Indian team as he matures as a player. With players like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma on rest, Hardik has been named captain for the T20I series against New Zealand. Looking ahead, he appears to be the man who can put an end to the Indian team’s knockout woes and bring the trophy home.
T20 is a format in which any team can win at any time. Even in this T20 World Cup, we saw some significant upsets, including Zimbabwe’s victory over Pakistan, the Netherlands win resulting the elimination of South Africa, and Ireland’s victory over England. When it comes to upsets, this one will be the most damaging to Team India.
Not only Team India, but the entire population of 1.4 billion Indians. But as Sachin Tendulkar believes, every coin has two sides and if we are celebrating the success of the Indian team then we should also accept the failures and stand by our team.