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The Times of India
The Times of India

I don't mind playing the role which Dhoni used to play: Hardik Pandya

NEW DELHI: Relishing his role of a finisher, Hardik Pandya feels it is his responsibility to step into the great Mahendra Singh Dhoni's shoes as a batter saying he is ready to sacrifice his strike-rate to play that role.

"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," Pandya said in the press conference after leading India to a 2-1 series win against New Zealand in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.

Pandya feels he has developed the ability to absorb pressure and doesn't mind playing the anchoring role that Dhoni played for the team, saying he has now learnt to take the back seat and anchor the innings, something which master chaser Dhoni did in the fag end of his international career.

"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," Pandya added.

Pandya has scored 1271 runs at a strike-rate of 142.17 in 87 T20Is.

"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."

During the third T20I against New Zealand, Pandya did just that, allowing the in-form Shubman Gill (126) to take the attack to the opposition as India posted a massive 234 for 4 and then bowled out NZ for 66 for a 168-run win.

With pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah nursing an injury, Pandya has backed himself to bowl more with the new ball, having bowled 12 overs in the powerplay, conceding 86 runs for two wickets this home season.

"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," Pandya 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."

Pandya has taken 69 wickets at 26.43 average in 87 T20Is.

Pandya, who last played a Test in August, 2018, said his priority now is white-ball cricket with the ODI World Cup scheduled in India for October-November this year and next year's T20 World Cup in the Caribbean.

"I will come (back) when I feel (it's) the right time to play Test-match cricket," said Hardik, who has not played any red-ball cricket since undergoing back surgery in 2019.

"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."

Impressed with Gill's rise as an all format player, Pandya said: "I always felt that he has the style and technique to play all the formats and it was not surprising for me.

"The effortless batting that he can do, not many can. It means a lot for him, as a youngster to play all formats adds a new dimension to the game."

(With PTI inputs)

1/10:Shubman Gill's maiden T20I ton helps India crush NZ to clinch series

2/10:Gill smashes unbeaten 126

<p>Opener Shubman Gill smashed an unbeaten 126 to help India clinch the T20 international series against New Zealand with a crushing 168-run victory in the decider on Wednesday.<br /><br /><br /></p>AFP

3/10:Gill steers India to 234-4

<p>Gill recorded his maiden T20 century for India as he steered the team to 234-4 after they elected to bat first at the world's biggest cricket ground in Ahmedabad.<br /></p>AFP

4/10:Gill smashes highest score by an Indian in T20Is

<p>Gill smashed the highest score by an Indian in T20I cricket, scoring 126* in just 63 balls surpassing Virat Kohli, who had smashed 122* against Afghanistan during the Asia Cup last year in September.<br /></p>IANS

5/10:Kiwis skittled out for 66

<p>Indian bowlers skittled out the Kiwis for a paltry 66 in 12.1 overs for a 2-1 series win. The hosts had whitewashed the Kiwis in three one-day matches.<br /></p>ANI

6/10:India post biggest-ever win in T20Is

<p>The huge victory was India's biggest ever in T20 internationals and the biggest margin by runs in a match played between two Test-playing nations.<br /></p>IANS

7/10:Gill smacks 12 fours and seven sixes

<p>India elected to bat first on a batting-friendly pitch and Gill continued his magnificent run of form -- hitting 12 fours and seven sixes in his 63-ball innings.<br /></p>PTI

8/10:Gill continues his fine run

<p>Gill had also put the New Zealand bowling to the sword with a double hundred and a ton during the ODI series.<br /></p>IANS

9/10:Gill-Pandya put on 103 runs for fourth wicket

<p>Gill put on 103 runs for the fourth wicket with skipper Hardik Pandya, who made 30 and then took four wickets with his pace bowling, at the 132,000-seater Narendra Modi Stadium.<br /></p>AFP

10/10:Bracewell traps Ishan early

<p>Off-spinner Michael Bracewell struck early as he trapped Ishan Kishan lbw for one in the second over of the innings.<br /></p>AFP
Shubman Gill's maiden T20I ton helps India crush NZ to clinch series
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