Hardik Pandya believes that he has grown in his ability to handle pressure and is willing to assume the anchor role that was once played by the great Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Hardik stated in a press conference after India's T20 series win against New Zealand that while he has always enjoyed hitting sixes, he has to adapt and evolve in his game. "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," said Pandya.
Hardik believes in the value of partnerships and wants to give his team and his batting partner a sense of calm and stability. He has gained experience and knows how to handle pressure. "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," Hardik added.
Hardik sees it as his responsibility to fill Dhoni's shoes as a batter and is ready to lower his strike rate if necessary to play that role. He is eager to take on new opportunities and responsibilities. "In that way, maybe I have to get my strike rate down. 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," said Dhoni.
Hardik has scored 1271 runs with a strike rate of 142.17 in 87 T20Is. He feels that the responsibility to step up as a batter has naturally fallen on him after Dhoni's departure, and he is happy to fulfill that role if the team is getting positive results.
In the third T20I against New Zealand, Pandya played the anchoring role, allowing Shubman Gill to take the lead as India won by a large margin.
With Jasprit Bumrah out with an injury, Hardik has taken the initiative to bowl more with the new ball, having bowled 12 overs in the powerplay and taken 2 wickets. He wants to lead from the front and is working on his new-ball skills.
Hardik, who has not played a Test match since 2018, has prioritized white-ball cricket with the upcoming ODI World Cup in India and the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean. He plans to focus on this form of cricket for now and will return to Test cricket when the time is right. The skipper is also impressed with Shubman Gill's ability to play all formats and believes that Gill has the style and technique to succeed in all forms of the game. He believes it is significant for a young player like Gill to be able to play in all formats and add a new dimension to the game.
Team India will next be in action in a 4-match Border-Gavaskar trophy starting Feb 9 in Nagpur.
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