“He is enjoying that challenge” - Zaheer Khan on Hardik Pandya thriving in pressure situations

Hardik Pandya batting during the 4th T20I. Pic: Getty Images
Hardik Pandya batting during the 4th T20I. Pic: Getty Images

Former Indian pacer Zaheer Khan reckons that all-rounder Hardik Pandya is enjoying the challenge of finding himself in pressure situations while batting.

On Friday (June 17), during the fourth T20I against South Africa in Rajkot, Hardik came in with India having lost early wickets. He played a crucial 46-run knock off 31 balls, striking three fours and as many sixes. The right-handed batter also featured in a fifth-wicket stand of 65 runs with Dinesh Karthik (55 off 27) as India recovered from 81 for four to post 169 for six.

Speaking about Hardik’s batting form, Zaheer said during a discussion on Cricbuzz:

“If you ask him how he would make the maximum impact, the answer would be - I want to bat higher up the order. The ideal spot which he is looking at is No.4. He does understand what the team requires and how he should mould himself according to the team’s requirements.”

Adding that he looks to be in charge out in the middle even when the opposition is on top, Zaheer stated in praise of Hardik:

“At No. 5 position, when you lose early wickets, that’s the kind of situation which he thrives upon. In this series, and since IPL, it has been very visible that he is enjoying that kind of a challenge. He is not looking rushed. That’s the beauty of his batting at the moment. As a batter, if you always feel that you're in control and can win the game from any stage, that is something that gives you that confidence.”

Hardik has carried his batting form from the IPL into the T20I series against South Africa and has registered scores of 31*, nine, 31* and 46 in the four matches.

“The nature of the wicket helped” - Zaheer Khan on Avesh Khan’s success in Rajkot

After the batters did their job, pacer Avesh Khan starred with the ball, claiming four for 18 to run through the Proteas batting line-up. The visitors were rolled over for 87, their lowest-ever T20I score. Analyzing Avesh’s impressive bowling effort, Zaheer commented:

“The nature of the wicket helped. He really enjoyed bowling with that extra bounce. His bowling style is similar to (Lungi) Ngidi. He looks to hit the deck hard and uses his height very well. He made use of the movement off the wicket.”

Avesh was under pressure going into the match, having registered figures of 0/35, 0/17 and 0/35 in the first three T20Is.

Also Read: "He doesn't drop a player after 1 or 2 bad performances" - Avesh Khan credits coach Rahul Dravid after 4-wicket haul

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Edited by Samya Majumdar
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