Mohammad Kaif believes Hardik Pandya made the right call in opening the bowling himself in all three T20Is between India and New Zealand.
Hardik scalped five wickets at an impressive economy rate of 6.72 in the 11 overs he bowled as the Men in Blue bounced back from a reversal in the first game to win the series 2-1. The Indian skipper registered his best T20I figures of 4/16 in the series decider, which included a couple of wickets with the new ball.
During an interaction on the Star Sports show 'Match Point', Kaif was asked whether Hardik Pandya's decision to bowl the first over throughout the series was correct, considering India had so many pacers, to which he responded:
"He gets the ball to swing. Among all the bowlers we saw in this series, Hardik Pandya's ball swung the most. Arshdeep Singh was there, we also saw (Lockie) Ferguson, the other bowlers also played but no one got the ball to swing."
The former Indian batter highlighted the seam-bowling all-rounder's ability to exploit the batters' weaknesses, saying:
"The specialty about Hardik Pandya is that he has a very good release point. He bowls both outswing and inswing and as a bowler, he knows the batter's weakness."
"To get Finn (Allen) and (Glenn) Phillips out in the slips in a T20I, it shows he has the X-factor. He gets extra bounce as well, the ball lands on the seam, and that is why he bowls with the new ball. He knows that he is the captain and has the passion that he can pick up wickets with the new ball."
Hardik had Allen flashing at an away-going delivery in the first over of the Kiwi innings, resulting in an outside edge that was brilliantly caught by Suryakumar Yadav in the slips. Phillips was also dismissed in an almost identical fashion in the seamer's next over.
"There was no messing around" - Mohammad Kaif on Hardik Pandya's captaincy
Kaif was also asked about his thoughts on Hardik's captaincy, to which he replied:
"It was enjoyable to watch. There was no messing around. He has a clear mind about the team he wants to play. It was a young team, the key players were missing. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Bumrah were not there and despite that, he is doing a good job."
The cricketer-turned-commentator concluded by predicting a bright future for Hardik as skipper, stating:
"He was getting the job done with the new players and backing them as well. The special thing as a captain is to know what the pitch is saying. We saw three matches in different-different conditions but he knows what decision should be taken. His future is very bright. Hardik Pandya looked fantastic as a captain."
The Men in Blue have won eight of the 11 games Hardik has skippered the side. While one game ended in a tie, they lost a game apiece in the last two series against Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
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