Hardik Pandya buries IPL hate, converts boos into monstrous batting pyrotechnics en route to rediscovering his mojo

hardik pandya buries ipl hate, converts boos into monstrous batting pyrotechnics en route to rediscovering his mojo

India's Hardik Pandya celebrates his half century on the last ball of India's turn during the ICC men's Twenty20 World Cup 2024 Super Eight cricket match between India and Bangladesh

Until Saturday, Hardik Pandya had only three Twenty20 International half-centuries. Not surprising, because in 73 previous innings, he had batted above No. 5 just four times. The last of those fifties came 14 innings and a year and a half back, against England in the semifinal of the T20 World Cup in Adelaide. It was the second straight time India had lost a match in which Pandya had topped the 50-run mark.

In T20s, more than any other format, individual milestones have ceased to hold the same significance as in the past. It’s all about impact. Yes, a 40-ball century is massive both from a landmark perspective and the team’s standpoint, but especially at the international level, how often do you get 40-ball hundreds? Oftentimes, a 15-ball 25 can be a game-changer. Or a 27-ball fifty a game-sealer. As happened at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound against Bangladesh.

Presented with the best batting surface of the tournament and gifted first use of it by a generous Najmul Hossain Shanto, India made their first flying start of this World Cup. Hitherto scratchy and out of kilter, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli finally sparkled, after four damp squibs; numerically, the opening salvo was 39, but it spanned just 22 deliveries. A statement had been made, the tone set.

India kept scoring briskly. They also kept losing wickets. That’s acceptable in modern 20-over cricket. The fall of wickets shouldn’t be, and isn’t, a deterrent to taking risks, to playing shots. It helps when someone of the stroke-making calibre of Axar Patel is pencilled in at No. 7, Ravindra Jadeja at No. 8.

And so, even though they were four wickets down in their Super Eight clash against Bangladesh after 11.4 overs, India’s total read 108. Rishabh Pant had just fallen after translating a 15-ball 12 to a 24-ball 36, Shivam Dube was content to knock the ball around.

Someone had to take charge. To push the needle, as Rahul Dravid loves to say, to provide the impetus, to convert a potentially middling total to a match-winning one. Pandya decided he would be that someone.

Two days back, against Afghanistan in Bridgetown, Pandya had shown signs of rediscovering his batting mojo. Of particular interest was a straight six against Noor Ahmad, the left-arm wrist-spinner, taken downtown with a minimum of fuss. When he is batting well and feeling good, Pandya’s bat-swing is a thing of beauty; the high backlift, the elaborate follow through, the huge distance the ball travels. This one travelled and travelled and travelled until it was halted by the huge press box into which the ball thudded with a ‘thwack’. Perhaps, Pandya was getting his own back for all the bad press after his Mumbai Indians misadventure in IPL 2024.

Against Afghanistan, Pandya was a secondary act to the Suryakumar Yadav show, though his 32 off 24 was a crucial component in India’s tally of 181 for eight. On Saturday, Pandya became the main act, perhaps tired of playing second fiddle. Sometimes, you need only one ball to gauge the mood of the batter, to understand his mindset, to recognise his intent and intentions. With Pandya, you almost knew on Saturday that an impact innings was imminent, never mind its magnitude.

Pandya is the vice-captain of the team, so he has the additional responsibility of looking out for others too. Dube was sleepwalking through the early part of his stint, Pandya’s job to keep him from giving in to frustration. When the strapping left-hander finally shed his diffidence and clattered Shakib Al Hasan over mid-wicket to reveal his spin-slayer mode, Pandya punched his partner’s glove with ferocious delight. By then, he himself had showcased his power, staying in his crease and flat-batting off-spinner Mahedi Hasan back over his head for a humongous six, then out-thinking the bowler by pressing forward and drilling the next ball through covers for a turf-singeing four.

The Pandya engine was positively purring by now. When he manages to unshackle his mind, which isn’t all the time nowadays, he is a free spirit. His batting is an expression of his mood, of his thought process, of how much he is enjoying himself and having fun. When all the positive boxes are ticked, like they were against Bangladesh, few can entertain like the man from Vadodara.

The last of three intelligent fours in the final over from Mustafizur Rahman, the alleged master of cutters, took Pandya to his half-century. Greeted with a lop-sided smile, and with a bit of relief, one suspects. But not celebrated outlandishly. Maybe that’s reserved for another day, a bigger stage, a match with more significant ramifications.

Read more news like this on HindustanTimes.com

OTHER NEWS

42 minutes ago

CNN analyst says Biden's performance in public appearances 'just affirms what folks saw in that debate'

42 minutes ago

Why is this ASX 300 retail stock surging 7% today?

42 minutes ago

Meghalaya CM seeks Rs 1000 cr from PM for New Shillong City project

42 minutes ago

Steve Kerr Announces Decision on Joel Embiid in Team USA's Starting Lineup

42 minutes ago

White Sox rolling out concert-style posters in another crossover of art and Chicago sports

42 minutes ago

"I want you and Jordan to head my Olympic team in '84" - Why Bob Knight asked Drexler to play one more year in college

43 minutes ago

US firms point to slowing activity and softer labour market, Fed survey shows

43 minutes ago

Former Louth orphanage earmarked to house 260 displaced Ukrainian refugees

43 minutes ago

Vlog - My Trip to Europe

43 minutes ago

Makashule Gana urges food vouchers for grant beneficiaries in budget debate

43 minutes ago

The Trump assassination attempt is ‘a wake-up call’ to send him back to the White House

43 minutes ago

The Irwins take over Singapore! Robert and Bindi jet off on ANOTHER family holiday with their mother Terri

43 minutes ago

Fans stunned over late Steve Irwin showing off his little known-skill in resurfaced video: 'Legends never die'

43 minutes ago

ABS releases latest labour force figures

43 minutes ago

‘Glaring neglect’: National Jet Express staff forced to scoop toilet waste manually on flight carrying Freemantle Dockers AFL players

43 minutes ago

This school has 12-hour days, 'relaxing' meals — and no smartphones

43 minutes ago

Extreme weather puts two-fifths of London homes at risk of subsidence by 2030

43 minutes ago

RBA July Bulletin: Mortgage arrears steadily increasing since late 2022

43 minutes ago

Thai cyanide poisoning that left six dead linked to $415,000 failed property investment

46 minutes ago

Here’s what extreme weather means for life in three refugee camps

46 minutes ago

Dick Van Dyke, 98, 'can't figure out' secret to longevity, but says one thing is key

46 minutes ago

More young adults are living at home in U.S., report finds

46 minutes ago

Rapid progress needed to make up lost ground on climate action, advisers warn

54 minutes ago

I quit the beauty industry after I saw what it did to teen girls who think they're too ugly to go outside

54 minutes ago

As IDF tanks head north to confront the 50,000 strong army of Hezbollah, if World War III is coming, this boiling point border is where it will begin...

54 minutes ago

NYC councilwoman arrested for biting a cop during a protest against a planned homeless shelter

55 minutes ago

Cavan Sullivan, 14, breaks Freddy Adu's youngest MLS player record

55 minutes ago

Cowboys legend Charles Haley says team should 'trade' Dak Prescott | Speak

55 minutes ago

Ange's classic reply to links with England coaching job

55 minutes ago

When Do Eagles Report to Training Camp?

55 minutes ago

Stegosaurus skeleton named 'Apex' auctioned off for record $44.6M

55 minutes ago

Luai's Origin scars heal, Blues exorcise Origin demons

55 minutes ago

Texans Make Host of Roster Moves to Start Training Camp

55 minutes ago

Thrifty Traveler now has hotel alerts to help you find great points deals

55 minutes ago

Georgia Misses Out On Nation's No. 1 Cornerback Recruit

55 minutes ago

Golf fans left furious with ScotRail after lengthy queues hold up travel to and from Royal Troon for The Open

55 minutes ago

Alpha Quest Appoints Shankar Jha as Managing Director, Group Head

58 minutes ago

Videos shows moment crane collapses and falls onto car on Florida bridge

60 minutes ago

Chicago police assist with security at RNC as DNC looms next month

1 hour ago

B.C. to join legal challenge of how Canada calculates equalization payments

ALONGWALKER VIETNAM: Kênh khám phá trải nghiệm của giới trẻ, thế giới du lịch ALONGWALKER INDONESIA: Saluran untuk mengeksplorasi pengalaman para pemuda global