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“I’ve been working on my new-ball skills”, Hardik Pandya warns Indian bowlers ahead of World Cup

India finished their T20I series against New Zealand on a triumph as they ran roughshod over their counterparts in the final game of the series bagging a crucial 168-run win. Hardik Pandya played an elemental role in the series decider where he came in with those handy runs followed by a sumptuous display with the ball, clinching 4 crucial scalps in the final.

He opened up at length about what his priorities are and what he is willing to do for the Indian team. Pandya is now willing to take a step back and instead of his natural game of raining boundaries, he is ready to anchor the innings if his team needs him to.

Hardik Pandya opens up on India’s current needs

In the post-match conference, Hardik said, “See, to be honest, I’ve always enjoyed hitting sixes, but I have to evolve and that is life. I have to take the other part where I’ve always believed in partnerships. I want to give my team and the other person more calmness and the assurance that at least I’m there. I’ve played more games than any of those guys out there. So, I’ve known the experience and more than the experience part, it’s where I’ve batted, and I’ve learnt how to accept pressure and I’ve learnt how to kind of swallow the pressure and kind of make sure the team and everything is calm.”

He further added, “In that way, maybe I have to get my strike rate down or… Taking new opportunities or taking new roles is [something] I’ve always looked forward to. I don’t mind coming in and playing the role which somewhere down the line Maahi [Dhoni] used to play. I think at that time, I was young, and I was hitting all around the park, but now since he has gone, all of a sudden that responsibility… It has just naturally come to me, and I don’t mind [doing it]. We’re getting the result we want and it’s okay.”

In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, Pandya has often led with the new ball. He shed some light on that as well, stating, “I had to bowl with the new ball [in T20Is] because Arshdeep [Singh]… I don’t want any new guy to come and have that difficult role of [bowling first up with the new ball] because if they’re put under pressure, then we’re chasing the game,” Hardik said. “So, I’ve always been [like] leading from the front and I’ve been working on my new-ball skills, which is helping me.”

He concluded by saying, “I will come [back] when I feel [it’s] the right time to play Test-match cricket. Right now, I’m going to focus on white-ball cricket, which is important, and if time is right and body is fine, I’ll give [the long format] a try.”

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