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All question marks erased: Navjot Sidhu defends Hardik Pandya

Hardik Pandya, after a challenging season with Mumbai Indians (MI) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024, showcased his prowess in a warm-up game against Bangladesh for the ICC T20 World Cup. The match, held on Saturday, saw Pandya deliver a rapid and impactful performance, addressing criticisms that emerged during the IPL. Pandya’s inclusion in […]

Hardik Pandya, after a challenging season with Mumbai Indians (MI) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024, showcased his prowess in a warm-up game against Bangladesh for the ICC T20 World Cup. The match, held on Saturday, saw Pandya deliver a rapid and impactful performance, addressing criticisms that emerged during the IPL.

Pandya’s inclusion in India’s T20 World Cup squad raised eyebrows when announced during the IPL’s league stage. As the captain of MI, Pandya struggled to lead his team, which finished last in the 2024 IPL season. Despite this, he was named vice-captain of the Indian squad for the World Cup, co-hosted by the United States and the West Indies, alongside skipper Rohit Sharma.

In the 15th warm-up game, Pandya silenced his critics with an explosive innings. Former India cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu praised Pandya’s resilience on Star Sports, stating, “There were many question marks over Hardik Pandya and they have been erased. The more you try to put Hardik Pandya down, the more he emerges and shines, just like a diamond after being continuously rubbed. Hardik Pandya is a great takeaway.”

Taking the No.6 spot, Pandya attacked the Bangladesh bowlers fiercely. He hit four sixes and two fours, including a hat-trick of sixes against Tanvir Islam, amassing an unbeaten 40 runs off 23 balls with a strike rate of 173.91. His contribution, along with Rishabh Pant’s half-century, propelled India to a total of 182-5 in 20 overs.

Reflecting on his performance and resilience, Pandya commented, “Eventually, I believe, you have to stay in the battle. Sometimes life puts you in situations where things are tough, but if you leave the game or the field, you won’t get what you want from your sport, or the results you are looking for.”

Bangladesh, in response, managed only 122-9 in their 20 overs, resulting in a 60-run victory for India at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium. Pandya’s formidable performance not only uplifted his team’s spirits but also reestablished his reputation ahead of the T20 World Cup.

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Hardik PandeyNavjot Singh SidhuTDGThe Daily Gaurdian