Following his sensational spell of bowling at Trent Bridge in on Sunday which yielded five wickets in just 29 balls, Hardik Pandya has hit back at his critics.
The 24-year-old India all-rounder has come in for criticism in recent weeks with many questioning his role in the side.
Pandya’s maiden five-wicket haul helped India bowled out England for just 161 in their first innings in the third Test with the visitors now well placed to push for a win.
“First of all, I don’t play for them (critics). They are getting paid for saying things which I don’t want to know about and I don’t even care what they say. I play for my country. I don’t care what they say. It’s their job to say it and it’s my job to play for my country. I’m doing the right thing. My team is happy with me. Nothing else matters,” Pandya said.
West Indies great and commentator Michal Holding had earlier said that Pandya was nowhere near the ilk of former India all-rounder Kapil Dev.
“I heard a mention, when I was working in South Africa: ‘he is the next Kapil Dev’. I ain’t going to tell anybody he’s not going to be the next Kapil Dev, but he is nowhere near there yet,” Holding told ESPNCricinfo.
Pandya has insisted that he does not want to be compared to the India legend.
“The problem is this what happens is they compare, fine. But all of a sudden when something goes wrong they say, ‘He is not that’.
“I never wanted to be Kapil Dev. Let me be Hardik Pandya, I’m good at being Hardik Pandya. I’ve come so far — playing 40 ODIs and 10 Tests — being Hardik and not Kapil Dev.
“He was great in his era. Let me be Hardik Pandya. Stop comparing me with anyone. I’ll be happy if you don’t,” the all-rounder said.
The India deputy skipper’s knock of 81 was one of the highlights from the visitors’ first innings total of 329.
The middle-order batsman’s 159-run for the fourth wicket along with captain Virat Kohli (97) was responsible for resurrecting India’s innings after three wickets had fell in quick succession.
“After the last Test match I sat down in the dressing room and analysed all my good innings, how I played them, what was my mindset, how I approached those innings,” Rahane told bcci.tv.
“Success and failures are there as a professional cricketer but the intent has to be there. And if the mindset and attitude is right results will automatically follow.
“Definitely, I was not getting too bogged down after the first Two Tests. The belief was that if the ball was there hit I will hit. Thinking too much about the end result put pressure. The aim was to play one ball at a time and play it on merit.”
The right-handed batsman had only managed to score a total of 48 runs in the first two Tests which ended in defeats for India. Following his gritty innings of 81, India batting coach Sanjay Bangar credited head coach Ravi Shastri for the improvement in Rahane’s confidence.
“Ravi (Shastri) coming out and saying that he is still the pillar of Indian batting might have done a whole lot of good for his confidence,” Bangar told the Times of India after the first day’s play.
On Sunday, Virat Kohli’s men added only 22 runs to their overnight score before being bowled out for 329. They then came out all guns blazing with the ball to bundle out the hosts for just 161 before putting up 124-2 in their second innings.
It was a day which belonged to one man and that man was none other than Hardik Pandya who finished with career-best figures of 5-28.
Here, we take a closer look at his outstanding display with the ball.
OVERS BOWLED: 6
RUNS CONCEDED: 28
It was Pandya’s day at Trent Bridge as he put in a sensational display of swing and accuracy which even James Anderson would have been proud of. The 24-year-old was given the ball after an injury to Ravi Ashwin forced him off the field and Pandya delivered like no other by striking with his very first ball. The all-rounder wrecked England’s batting order in a 29-ball burst in which he picked up a maiden Test five-wicket haul. He removed England’s two best batsmen in Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow while also claiming the wickets of Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid and Stuart Broad.
Hardik Pandya Spell:— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) August 19, 2018
W 2 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 4 W 4 4 0 W W 0 0 0 W 0
Five overs Five wickets!
Swing and plenty of it. What worked for Pandya on Sunday was the fact that he got the ball to move both ways creating plenty of doubts in the batsmen’s minds. However, it was the control Pandya exerted over the moving ball that sent England’s batsmen in a dizzy. While the likes of Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah were scatter-gun at times, Pandya got the ball to pitch in the danger areas more often than not and let the swing on offer do the rest of the job.
There is barely any fault one can find in a performance which fetched five wickets in just 29 deliveries. If any criticism can be levelled against Pandya’s performance, it would be the few times he lost control of the ball and bowled very wide. However, those instances were few and far in between.
VERDICT – 9/10
Quite simply, it was Hardik Pandya’s best ever performance with the ball in India colours. It might even be the series-defining spell for India if they can claw their way back and it will go some way in justifying the immense faith the team management has bestowed on him so far ever since he emerged from the IPL. The all-rounder’s place has been called into question of late given his low returns with the ball but after Sunday, his bowling credentials have been enhanced like never before. With the way he has batted in the previous two Tests, Pandya is now showing plenty of signs of fulfilling the role of a seaming all-rounder which India have been desperately searching for a long time.