The India vs South Africa T20Is saw an disappointing end as the fifth and final encounter in Bengaluru on Sunday was abandoned due to rain. With this outcome, the five-match series ended in a 2-2 draw.
The series began with South Africa outplaying the hosts in the first two contests. However, the momentum shifted and the hosts bounced back in the following matches to get back on level terms.
Despite the big names missing from the Indian camp, the home side put up a decent effort and there were hardly any hiccups when the absence of Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli was felt on the pitch. In fact the series proved to be a good opportunity for young Ishan Kishan to click back to form. Kishan had a topsy-turvy Indian Premier League (IPL) but finished as the leading run scorer of the tournament here. The 23-year-old accumulated 206 runs from five matches.
Apart from him another Indian, who had a splendid outing with the bat was Hardik Pandya. The all-rounder, who returned to the national side for the first time in one year, finished as the third-highest run-getter of the series. In the four innings he played, Pandya batted at a strike-rate of 153.95 and mustered 117 runs. Although wicketless and a bit expensive, he was also seen bowling with no discomfort.
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Assessing the Pandya show, former India cricketer Sunil Gavaskar was mighty impressed with the all-rounder’s performance. In fact the 1983 World Cup-winner predicted him to be Team India’s “impact player” with the T20 World Cup approaching fast.
“He (Hardik Pandya) will take the game away from the opposition. He has done in these matches as well. He’s given India some substance through his batting. So he would be somebody who would make a difference,” noted Gavaskar on Star Sports, the official broadcasting partner of the series.
Gavaskar also spoke about Pandya’s bowling and despite the poor figures the ex-cricketer was content with his body language, and he considers it to be a “huge plus” for India.
“Also when he starts to bowl very much regularly. At the moment, he’s just short of confidence as well. The fact he’s bowling is a huge plus. The fact he’s running in and throwing in and there’s no after effects on his back, this is a huge plus for India.
Because he’s going to be an impact player and he’s the impact player in this team in fact,” he added.
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Pandya was out of action for a substantial period and had to undergo a fitness test at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru to participate in the IPL. Not only did the 28-year-old cricketer cleared the fitness test but also led newcomer Gujarat Titans to the title in their debut season.
He will next be seen against Ireland, where he will be leading the national team for the first time.