‘Pandya did what Rohit Sharma couldn’t’: Australia legend’s ballistic remark | Cricket

Former Australia opener Matthew Hayden heaped praise on India all-rounder Hardik Pandya for his superb knock against Pakistan. After big guns Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Shubman Gill fell prey to Pakistan’s seam attack, India found unexpected heroes in Pandya and Ishan Kishan in their Asia Cup 2023 opener in Pallekele. The match ended as a no result as rain washed out Pakistan’s chase but India ticked a few boxes as a batting unit. One of the major concerns for captain Rohit and head coach Rahul heading to the Asia Cup was the middle-order.

India's Hardik Pandya raises his bat as he celebrates his half-century during their match against Pakistan in the Asia Cup 2023(BCCI Twitter)
India’s Hardik Pandya raises his bat as he celebrates his half-century during their match against Pakistan in the Asia Cup 2023(BCCI Twitter)

With KL Rahul ruled out of the first two matches of the Asia Cup, Shreyas Iyer coming back after a long injury lay-off and Ishan Kishan batting out of position, the middle-order was easily the weak link in India’s strong unit. But that same middle-order stood up when it mattered the most. India were in a lot of trouble at one stage as Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf reduced them to 66 for 4 in 14.1 overs but Hardik and Kishan staged India’s stunning comeback with a remarkable partnership.

Rohit (11), GIll (10), Kohli (4), and Shreyas Iyer (14) were dismissed early after India opted to bat in the Group A contest on Saturday. Pakistan were all over India and a repeat of the 2021 T20 World Cup seemed inevitable. But Kishan and Hardik had other ideas. The duo put on 138 runs – India’s highest fifth-wicket partnership against Pakistan in ODIs – to bring India right back in the contest. Kishan started off fluently with a few boundaries but Hardik took his time.

He used all his experience to rotate the strike against Pakistan spinners Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz and Agha Salman. It was an important knock for Hardik’s perspective as the T20I captain had a disappointing West Indies tour in the led-up to the Asia Cup.

So good were Hardik and Kishan that at one point India were looking at a total in excess of 300. Just when both of them were looking set for respective centuries, Kishan was sent back by Rauf. The left-hander tried to heave a wide delivery towards the on side and got a leading edge. He had to walk back for a well-made 82 off 81.

Hardik then smashed three fours in Rauf’s one over to raise hopes of a maiden ODI century but was outfoxed by Afridi’s slower one. The right-hander was out caught at cover of 87 off 90 balls.

After Hardik and Kishan’s dismissals, India saw another collapse and were bowled out for 266 in 48.5 overs.

Hayden said Hardik did what Rohit Sharma couldn’t. “He (Hardik Pandya) should’ve scored 120. He knew he had Ishan Kishan at the other end. But he played really well. He did exactly what India needed at that situation, soaked in the pressure. He was able to manipulate strike, he was able to manoeuvre the spinners. He made sure Ishan Kishan was at ease at the other end. In my opinion, it was a captain’s knock. Rohit Sharma couldn’t but Hardik Pandya did,” the legendary Australia opener said in the mid-innings show on Star Sports.

Leave a Comment

क्या वोटर कार्ड को आधार से जोड़ने का फैसला सही है?