Former India batter Wasim Jaffer praised all-rounder Hardik Pandya for his responsible knock under pressure in the Asia Cup 2023 match against Pakistan in Pallekele on Saturday. According to Jaffer, when Pandya bats in the manner that he did against Pakistan, India look a much more settled outfit.
Team India won the toss and batted first against Pakistan in Pallekele. The Men in Blue got off to a poor start, losing four wickets for 66. Rohit Sharma (11), Virat Kohli (4), Shreyas Iyer (14) and Shubman Gill (10) were all back in the hut before the end of 15 overs.
Pandya (87 off 90) then resurrected the Indian innings in the company of Ishan Kishan (82 off 81). The duo added 138 for the fifth wicket as the Men in Blue ended up posting 266 in 48.5 overs.
During a discussion on ESPNcricinfo, Jaffer hailed Pandya:
“He played a responsible knock under pressure. He looked very assured and the fluency was back. I feel Hardik Pandya plays better when the ball comes onto the bat nicely.
"He likes pace and that was evident in the match the way he played fast bowlers. He used the pace very well and played some nice strokes against Haris Rauf.”
The former opener added that if the all-rounder continues to bat in the same mode more consistently at No. 6, it will be a big plus for India.
“Overall, it was a very mature knock. Coming to bat at number six and featuring in that partnership at that stage … India got a decent total due to that partnership.
"If Hardik Pandya plays in such a manner, a big jigsaw puzzle gets solved for India. If he can play in this manner and also bowl a few overs, it’s a big plus for India,” Jaffer commented.
Pandya struck seven fours and a six before being foxed by a slower ball from Shaheen Afridi.
“His shot execution was incredible to watch” - Robin Uthappa on Pandya’s knock
Another former India batter, Robin Uthappa, opined that the execution of strokes was the standout feature of Pandya’s innings on Saturday in Pallekele.
“The way he batted and the control he showed, his shot execution was incredible to watch. The way he pulled and hooked Haris Rauf, phenomenal batting.
"There was not one shot where it seemed like he was slogging. They were all clean and crisp strokes. He is looking in good rhythm,” he said.
The fluent half-century marked a welcome return to form for Pandya after he had struggled in the T20I series in West Indies, scoring 77 runs in four innings at a strike rate of 110.