Watch: Hardik Pandya pouches a stunner on the ropes to send back Martin Guptill
Virat Kohli and MSK Prasad have been stressing on the importance of fitness and fielding in the ‘new Indian team’, especially in the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup. The new wave of youngsters, the likes of Manish Pandey, Axar Patel and Hardik Pandya, have shown their prowess on the field with some superb dives and run-outs.
Pandya pulled off a piece of brilliance against New Zealand in the first T20I.
Yuzvendra Chahal was surprisingly chosen to bowl the second over of the Kiwi innings, after the Indian opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan smote the visitors’ bowling attack on their way to 202.
Martin Guptill, who has been in a lean run of form, decided to go after Chahal from the second ball itself. He got a delivery right in the slot and went for a lofted straight drive, giving the ball a mighty swing, ready to challenge the two fielders in the deep.
The ball went straight as an arrow, and looked on its course to crash onto the sightscreen: it got the elevation, but not the distance.
Enter Hardik Pandya!
He ran from long-off, keeping his eyes on the ball all along. As the ball dipped, a few feet in front of the ropes, a galloping Pandya leapt, stretching horizontally across the carpet and took a two-handed blinder, right in front of the sightscreen. Guptill must have cursed his luck in disbelief.
What made the catch special was how Pandya adjusted to the dip in elevation and timed his jump to perfection, leaping like an acrobat to grab the ball cleanly.
The hangover of the catch, however, didn’t last long, as MS Dhoni dropped a catch off Colin Munro the very next over. And, to make matters worse, Pandya himself floored a chance off the same batsman in Nehra’s over. Not a parting gift the veteran would have wanted.
The drop didn't turn out to be costly, as Bhuvneshwar Kumar got rid of Munro soon after.
Interestingly, Pandya has worked under the legendary Jonty Rhodes for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL, and the countless hours of practice seem to be paying rich dividends during his dream start for team India