In any context, the 14 runs required to win since the last game end is a difficult task for any batsman in the game.
When Hardik Pandya faced Australian debutant Daniel Sams in the same scenario in Sydney on Sunday, a win seemed inevitable.
In the end, India clinched a win on the series after Pandya’s powerful two-ball punches hit the target at the Sydney Cricket Ground. It is proof of the Indian all-rounder’s great form on the tour that the result looked like a foregone conclusion even before Sams was given the responsibility to finish the finals.
Two hits in the previous ODI series in the 1990s had already signaled Pandya’s increasing maturity in a final role, and he confirmed his qualification as the man for the job with his 22-ball 42 in Sunday’s clash.
“The reason Hardik joined the team in 2016 was sheer skill. He has raw talent ”, said the victorious skipper Virat Kohli the broadcasters after the game.
“And now he realizes this is his time, the next four to five years, to be the bankable gamer who can attract you from anywhere. His plans are right and I’m glad to see that. “
Ever since Pandya was quickly inducted into the national team due to its IPL ads for Mumbai Indians, India has been hoping he will become their destructive match winner. Insights into this ability have been sporadic over the past four years, particularly India’s loss to Pakistan in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final in London.
In a devastating defeat in which no other Indian batsman crossed 22 runs, Pandya played with the Pakistani bowler in a clean batting exhibition at The Oval. Six sixes and four limits in a 43-ball blow from his racket failed to save India’s blush that day, but were enough to defend the potential of Pandya’s raw talent.
Unfortunately for the Men in Blue, these moments were rare for Pandya in the years that followed. Two ODI half centuries and a couple of rapid fire 30s in T20I format were all Pandya had to show before the Indian came to Australia for the current tour.
His unbeaten 92 in the third ODI and Sunday excellence have both resulted in victories in India, earning him his fifth and sixth man-of-the-match awards in international cricket. Since MS Dhoni’s clout has waned, it has proven to be a difficult task for India’s middle-order batsmen to regularly and accurately clean the border ropes in the event of deaths.
In a one-sided stroke order, which depends heavily on the top 3, the desire for a reliable finisher has been clear for some time. Pandya reveals that India may have finally found its man for the job.
“We know how dangerous he (Pandya) is. In the past we had MS Dhoni and the way he (Pandya) played today, ”said Australia coach Justin Langer in the virtual press conference after the game.
“He played very well all summer, obviously it was a great inning in the end.”
The occasional flashes of brilliance are now beginning to turn into permanence, and that will be a daunting prospect for any Indian opponent in the months to come. Brute force combined with a dash of persistence in this particular role is a deadly invention seldom found internationally.
There are people like Andre Russell and Kieron Pollard who have caused similar devastation in the T20 cricket franchise, though even they struggled to consistently do so internationally. Pandya is great news for India ahead of the two upcoming T20I World Championships.
According to the Cricket Analytics Site CricVizOnly Jos Buttler and Glenn Maxwell have run faster than Pandya among all batsmen in the last two years, with at least 400 deliveries. This is the exclusive company Pandya itself, which includes two of the most destructive batsmen of modern times.
At the age of 27 he entered his peak years both as a batsman and as an athlete. Although Pandya suffered a serious back injury in the past year, there is no reason why Pandya cannot collect similar numbers for India in the coming years.
His appearances for Masters of the Mumbai Indians in the latest edition of IPL in the United Arab Emirates have been of a similar nature, with Pandya hitting at a rate of nearly 180 over the course of the campaign. It was the IPL where Pandya first got famous and now we are finally seeing the same player in India Blues.
His extraordinary blow will be hard to take for the next several years, but there is no doubt that Pandya’s very presence at the crease is now going to create fear in the eyes of bowlers around the world.
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