What’s the story?
Indian captain Virat Kohli admitted that the decision to promote Hardik Pandya ahead of MS Dhoni during the latter stages of their opening group B game against Pakistan at Edgbaston was a last-minute decision. The all-rounder himself added that he came to know about the promotion not too long before he walked out and hit three successive sixes in the final over to help India post a match-winning total.
Speaking about Pandya’s promotion at the post-match press conference, Kohli said: “It was unbelievable the way he came out. We switched in the end, they asked whether we should send Hardik ahead of MS and everyone agreed because he can just strike the ball from ball one, unbelievable ability so I think those three sixes and a boundary was probably a little bit of difference as well in the end.”
In case you didn’t know…
After the fall of Yuvraj Singh’s wicket, India were 285/3 and had 10 balls to get the total past 300. Instead of MS Dhoni, who usually plays at No.5, Hardik came to the crease and his promotion worked wonders as he scored a 6-ball 20 that included three successive sixes off the first three balls of the final over of the innings as India posted 319/3 in their 48 overs.
The promotion of Hardik Pandya really changed the complexion of the game as India went from just looking like they were going to get past 300 to setting a target of 324 for Pakistan to chase in 48 overs, which was later reduced to 289 in 41 overs as per Duckworth-Lewis method after another rain interruption.
After an impressive unbeaten 80 in the second warm-up game against Bangladesh, the 23-year-old all-rounder was given the opportunity to prove himself in an ODI game at the last moment. He didn’t disappoint as he backed up his cameo with the bat with two wickets with the ball to cap off a brilliant all-round performance and justify his selection in the side ahead of Ravichandran Ashwin, which raised a few eyebrows.
After the convincing win over Pakistan that sees them top the group, India will take on Sri Lanka in their next encounter, with a victory over the Asian giants on Thursday sealing their berth in the semi-final of the tournament.
With the players constantly going on and off the field due to rain, there was little chance of momentum and that was evident in the middle overs when India struggled. But after Yuvraj Singh set the platform, Hardik Pandya just came in and delivered the final flourish that was required. The fact that he came in ahead of Dhoni, who has made a career out of finishing the innings perhaps suggests a changing of the guard and an example of the Indian side moving in the right direction.Published 05 Jun 2017, 00:51 IST