Psllivecricket t20 world cup 2022 India vs Pakistan, Asia Cup: Nonchalant Hardik Pandya shines brightest amid a galaxy of stars – Firstpost – Firstpost

India vs Pakistan, Asia Cup: Nonchalant Hardik Pandya shines brightest amid a galaxy of stars – Firstpost – Firstpost

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Players from both teams had played their hearts out and highlighting one performance over the other would be almost impossible. Yet, Hardik Pandya was able to shine the brightest amid a galaxy full of stars.
Hardik Pandya won his third man of the match award in the clash against Pakistan. AP
India needed six runs off the last four balls to beat Pakistan. Hardik Pandya – who went down on his knees, head hidden behind his bat in disappointment after seeing Ravindra Jadeja’s stumps disrupted as he tried to tonk left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz on the leg side at the start of the over – was on strike, after Dinesh Karthik took a single.
Hardik was eyeing the leg side. But as Nawaz bowled a good length delivery on stumps, Pandya moved towards the leg side, gave himself some room, and slapped the ball fiercely, only to find Babar Azam at covers who stopped the ball. Dinesh Karthik tried to tell him something from the other end, but Hardik nodded his face in an utmost calm manner, as if he was saying – “don’t worry, we will get it”.
Read: Hardik Pandya, in champagne form, seals win after India’s near-perfect bowling
The Pakistani fielders believed they can still win. Rohit Sharma, in the dugout, had a wry smile on his face. The fans had hands on their heads, while a few, needless to say, were biting their nails.
The next ball from Nawaz was a short-pitched delivery. Hardik smashed the ball with a horizontal bat over long-on. The ball went into the stands. He had scored the remaining six runs, and India had won the match. Nawaz was stranded and clueless. The Indian dressing room had smiles, handshakes, hugs, and high fives. The crowd – Indian fans – had gone berserk. Krunal Pandya stood up and clapped for his younger sibling. Even the BCCI secretary Jay Shah was elated with both his arms flying high over his head.
But then, the on-field scenes were different. Hardik, for starters, didn’t have any significant expression on his face. He walked down the pitch, removed his glove, gave a fist bump to Dinesh Karthik, and then had a confident smile on his face. It seemed like he had already seen this moment ahead of time. What reaffirmed the idea was that he signaled the newly adopted Gen Z’s shaka signal, extending the thumb and the pinky finger, towards someone in the crowd.
DK echoing the action of every Indian fan 🔥🇮🇳#HardikPandya #India #INDvsPAK #AsiaCup #Cricket
— Wisden India (@WisdenIndia) August 28, 2022
There were no roaring celebrations, no heavy-weight air punches, no pointing to his name on the back of the jersey, or a gorilla-like chest-thumping. Even the bat raise after a while was more in the adulation of the crowd rather than celebrating his winning six. Hardik was as nonchalant as one can be at such a peak situation and had truly come of age.
His confidence was as high as nonchalant he seemed at the crease. Even when he came out to bat, he told Jadeja that he will play his shots, no matter what. And what largely turned the tide in India’s favour was the three boundaries Hardik managed to hit in Haris Rauf’s penultimate over.
Hardik Pandya signaling at the crowd after the winning shot. Image: Mohammed Shami/ Twitter
The Sunday’s match between the fiercest competitors reignited the rivalry after a long sequence of lop-sided contests. Players from both the teams – from Bhuvneshwar Sharma to Ravindra Jadeja, and from Mohammed Rizwan to Naseem Shah – had played their hearts out, and highlighting one performance over the other would be almost impossible. Yet Hardik was able to shine the brightest amid a galaxy full of stars.
Hardik’s injury break till last year, for once seemed never-ending. A potential star who was expected to have a bright future looked to settle down before his years could turn purple. But ever since he returned to cricket as the leader of the IPL 2022 title-winning Gujarat Titans, the all-rounder has looked a revamped version of his own self – his mind steadier, dedication more visible, and persona more confident.
His performance at the Dubai International Stadium was not the first and he had already played several match-winning innings – both with the bat and the ball since his comeback for India. In 2022, Hardik has scored 314 runs – which account for 36.2 percent of his T20I career runs – in 14 matches at an average of 34.88 and a threatening strike rate of 144.03.
It is Hardik the bowler who impresses me more. He was always going to be a very gifted, natural stroke-player. Hardik is a high quality batsman who is squeezing every bit of the bowler out of him and that is what makes it so admirable.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) August 28, 2022

The more satisfying aspect for the experts and beneficial for the team’s balance has been his bowling – he has scalped 11 wickets in 32 overs this year at an average of 24.
He hit his first half-century in the format in the current year. He also registered his best bowling figures of 4/33 in the current year. Incidentally, both were in the same match at the Rose Bowl in Southampton. Hardik has won three player of the match awards in his T20I career. Two have come in 2022, one of which came yesterday. India, for once have found the elusive fast bowling all-rounder.
Read: Hardik Pandya brings Pakistan’s downfall, brother Krunal Pandya cheers
Hardik got injured during the 2018 Asia Cup match against Pakistan and had to be taken out on a stretcher. Four years later, he won the player of the match award against the same team in the same tournament and announced his arrival in an elegant style. He can now say, “aaj me jeeta ke aaya hai,” but now he wouldn’t want to.
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