After bending his back without discomfort, premier all-rounder Hardik Pandya on Sunday said “my body is fine”, just the kind of assertion the Indian team management needed in the year of the T20 World Cup. Hardik, who had been dogged by recurrent back problems, took a career-best 4/24 and then played a 71-run knock to help India defeat England in the series-deciding third ODI. He used the short ball to good effect, picking up three wickets with that.
“I had to bend my back a bit, change my plans, realised that this was not the wicket to go full — and go for the short-ball, use it as a wicket-taking delivery,” Hardik said after his excellent effort with the ball.
His wicket included that of the big-hitting Liam Livingstone, who was caught at deep backward square leg after he failed to tackle a bouncer.
“I always fancy my bouncer. Livingstone likes to take the short ball on and that gives me goosebumps. He hit me for two sixes, but one wicket made a big difference.
“The body’s fine, that’s why I’m bowling so much and without trouble, the captain is fantastic at managing my workload. The captain has been fantastic on when I should bowl and when I should not, he has handled me nicely,” the star all-rounder, who has his eyes trained on the upcoming T20 showpiece in Australia, added.
On India bowling out England with more than four overs to spare, he said, “The chase is about intent, the wicket is pretty good to bat on. We’ll fancy our chances to chase it down. We should make sure we don’t focus on the target.” Skipper Jos Buttler top-scored for England with an 80-ball 60, but it was the flamboyant all-rounder from Gujarat, who dominated the first half of the match with his excellent bowling, sending out a warning to the opponents ahead of the T20 World Cup.
Talking about India’s chase, Rishabh Pant played an unbeaten knock of 125 to help India win the match by five wickets and 47 balls to spare.
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