Team India faced a four-wicket loss in the first T20I against Australia in Mohali on Tuesday. Despite putting a strong score of 208/6 in 20 overs, the Indian team failed to beat the world champions as Australia produced a magnificent effort with the bat, riding on contributions from Cameron Green (61) and Matthew Wade (45*), among others. While India‘s bowling continued to remain a primary concern for the team management, the performance of Hardik Pandya was a much-needed positive.
Hardik had made a return to the side on the back of a series of consistent performances in the 2022 Indian Premier League for Gujarat Titans. In his maiden IPL stint as captain, Hardik steered the Titans to the title and was called-up for the T20I side for the first time since October last year, when he featured in the T20 World Cup.
The all-rounder continued on his impressive performances and also showcased his skills with the ball, constantly going above the 140kph mark and troubling the batters with his short-pitched deliveries. Primarily, though, it was Hardik’s batting that brought a massive boost to the batting order and former India star Sanjay Bangar, who had worked closely with the Gujarat-born all-rounder during the former’s stint as the national team’s batting coach between 2014-2019, lift the lid on what has changed in Hardik.
“There came a time in his batting where he was only targeting on-side. He was literally covering the stumps with both feet in one line. He had kept his off-side shut. Yes, now he is covering his off-stump too but he is clearing his front foot and giving himself room to access both sides of the wicket, that’s why he is becoming such a destructive player,” Bangar said on Star Sports following the game between India and Australia.
“Now, he’s just showing the range of shots that he has. That’s the beauty of his batting at the moment. He is able to access a lot of areas,” Bangar further added.
In the game, Hardik’s innings proved key in India crossing the 200-run mark, as he smashed a brilliant unbeaten 71 off just 30 deliveries which included seven fours and five sixes. He also hit three successive sixes in the final over of the Indian innings against Cameron Green.
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