After playing a crucial role in India’s 82-run victory against South Africa in the 4th T20I in Rajkot, Hardik Pandya during a conversation with Player of the Match Dinesh Karthik explained how he will forever be thankful to former captain MS Dhoni for helping him mature as a cricketer. Hardik, who scored 46 off 31 balls on Friday, Dhoni told him to always focus on what the team requires rather than thinking about his own game. When asked by Karthik about the changes he has had to make between representing the Gujarat Titans, whom he led to IPL 2022 ttile, and representing India, Hardik looked back on one piece of advice Dhoni had given in the early stages of his career.
“In my early days, I asked Mahi bhai one question. I asked him how he gets away from pressure, and he gave me some very simple advice — ‘stop thinking about your own score and start thinking about what your team requires’. From very early, that lesson has stuck to my mind and helped me become the kind of player I am now,” Hardik said in a video uploaded by BCCI.tv.
Hardik and Karthik stitched together a 65-run partnership in the fourth T20I against South Africa, guiding India from a precarious position to one of strength. Pandya contributed 46(31), taking his time to get going on a difficult slow wicket before accelerating towards the end. India finished at 169/6 and then bowled South Africa out for 87 to win by 82 runs.
“Nothing changes because I have started playing for the symbol which is on my chest, and I play the situation,” said Hardik. “I want to get better with time, and do it with the frequency, I did for Gujarat.” Hardik batted at number 4 for the Gujarat Titans, and while he scored at a lower strike rate than what he had made his name for, he received many plaudits for playing with a maturity that his team required.
Hardik also called Karthik an inspiration for him and for many young players following Karthik’s recent exploits in the IPL and also for India. “I remember when you were not even in the scheme of things, in the IPL, or a lot of people counted you out, I remember those conversations, you said you wanted to play for India again and play at the World Cup. It is genuinely inspirational, and I know a lot of people will learn new things.”
Hardik and Karthik will again be at the heart of India’s hopes to clinch the deciding T20I in the five-match series in Bangalore.