Hardik Pandya gave a glimpse of how the future of Indian cricket could look like with his sensational knock of 42 in the second T20I against Australia on Sunday.
Pandya’s innings included three fours and two sixes. He wasn’t connecting early in the innings but held his composure while under the pump.
The 27-year-old took the game deep and struck two maximums off three balls in the last over to seal the game for India. Now retired MS Dhoni, who was known for finishing games in that fashion, would have been proud witnessing Pandya’s effort.
However, when it comes to finishing games, Hardik Pandya revealed that it wasn’t Dhoni who was his inspiration. It was his Mumbai Indians teammate and West Indian captain Kieron Pollard.
During the post-match press conference, Pandya said:
“Pollard has done it many times for his country and franchise, for me, the inspiration will always be him, I have been lucky to see some of his knocks in the past. We have all played cricket in the IPL, in franchise cricket we need to step it up as it is a professional sport, in international cricket, the love for cricket comes and you do feel pressure in international cricket.”
— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) November 28, 2020
The finishing role is something that comes naturally to Hardik Pandya. And he has honed his skill in the Mumbai Indians camp at the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Pandya got to learn from Pollard, who is one of the most successful players in T20 franchise cricket.
In the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2020, Pollard etched his name in history by leading his team to the tournament title unbeaten. In the seven innings he got a chance to bat in, Pollard scored over 200 runs at a tournament-best strike rate of 205.
Pandya and Pollard share similar cricketing attributes as well. Both bat in the middle-order, are excellent fielders at the boundary rope and share the knack of taking crucial wickets.
Their strike rates of 179 and 191 respectively in IPL 2020 made them one of the most feared partnerships this season. Other teams in the IPL either lacked the luxury of more than one abled finisher, or didn’t have players who could match Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard’s camaraderie.