First things first, Hardik Pandya as much as he developed a name for himself as a brash spoilt kid living his life & a wasted talent in the first half of his career, he has equally managed to reinvent himself post his injury. Hardik with some match winning performances post injury is certainly changing his image for the better.
Also his batting has improved leaps and bounds post comeback. Some cover & straight drives which he has displayed in his last few matches have been proper technical cricketing shots which have been nothing but pleasing to the eyes. The way he is hitting 140+ with the ball as well as hitting the right lengths has been a testament of the hardwork he has been putting on the nets.
Into the all important tie vs arch rivals Pakistan, India certainly had a lot to prove, whether it was salvaging their pride after losing vs Pakistan in their previous Asia Cup outing or the under pressure Kohli trying to get back to form to Dinesh Karthik making a place for himself instead of Young Pant!
India opting to bowl first at Dubai International Cricket Stadium were off to a decent start sending back Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman within the powerplay. On the other hand, Mohammad Rizwan was looking to play the anchors role before he also got dismissed in the 15th over scoring 43 runs. The wickets kept on tumbling at regular intervals until some quickfire cameos by tailenders Haris Rauf and Shahnawaz Dahani which pushed Pakistan to a respectable total of 147/10 in 19.5 overs. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar with 4/26 was the pick of the lot while Hardik Pandya also bagged 3/25 in 4 overs.
Chasing a total of 148, Pakistan’s new express find Naseem Shah cleaned up KL Rahul in the very 1st ball of the innings. On the other hand, Rohit and Kohli also looked rusty for the first few overs until Kohli who got a life early on made the most of it to score a crucial 35 batting out the crucial overs vs the pacers when the ball was swinging. It was also a delight to watch Kohli hitting some of his trademark shots probably signaling his comeback to form! In the middle overs, it was Surykumar Yadav and Jadeja stitching a crucial 36 runs until Hardik Pandya came in and simply owned the match with his electric knock of 33* off 17 balls, a match winning knock which included 4 fours and a finisher six in the penultimate over!
With that six, India won the match vs Pakistan by 5wkts and continued to dominate the Arch Rivals. Hardik Pandya for his all-round show was declared ‘man of the match’