Much has been said about India’s clinical victory over New Zealand in the T20I series decider at Thiruvananthapuram which led the host winning the 3-match series by 2-1. However, the victory didn’t come as easy as it seems because first, the India vs New Zealand match was reduced to 8-overs due to heavy rains and then the pitch at offer was damp while there also existed the dew factor in the second innings.
Scoring 67 runs after put to bat first, India seemed at least 10 runs short of a defendable total but it was the disciplined as well as formidable bowling spells by Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Yuzvendra Chahal that helped India win the T20I by 6 runs.
However, there is another player who also deserves some credit for his prowess on the field and he is none other than the best all-rounder in the squad, Hardik Pandya.
After a couple of failures with the bat in the first two T20I, Hardik Pandya made the most of this series decider as he added 14 substantial runs to the total during his unbeaten innings and when it came down to defending, his fielding efforts on the field were arguably the best that we have seen in Indian cricket in a long time.
Pandya was responsible for sending Kane Williamson and Tom Bruce back to the pavilion, which ended up being the turning point of the match.
— Cricket-atti (@cricketatti) November 7, 2017
But what became an awe-inspiring moment was the third ball of the last over, in which New Zealand needed 19 runs to win. After conceding a bye on the first ball, Hardik Pandya received an injury as Colin de Grandhomme smashed the ball straight back to the bowler, who put out his hand. The physio, Patrick Farhart, was rushed in to attend the 24-year-old and to see whether he could bowl the remaining deliveries.
With Pandya on the floor, it was Virat Kohli who toddled with the idea of taking matters into his hands but Hardik Pandya, perfectly knowing the situation, got up and said, ‘I will complete this final over’.
In the post-match conference, Virat Kohli revealed what exactly did Panday say and how it assured him of winning the series. The skipper said, “Obviously it was important to give him the confidence. I tried to go to him after three balls of the final over, but he replied ‘mein daal dunga, aap tension mat lo’. If you get that confidence from a bowler, as a captain, then you don’t have to worry or tell him much.”
In the end, after Jasprit Bumrah turned the tables in the 7th over with conceding just 10 runs and taking a wicket, it was Hardik Pandya who stroke the final nail and gave India a 6-run win and ultimately the series title.
India’s next assignment of the home season starts when Sri Lanka will tour for a three-match Test, ODI, and T20I series, starting November 16 after which Virat Kohli & Co. will travel for a marathon tour of South Africa in January.