Hardik Pandya stated that he would gladly play the role of former captain MS Dhoni in India’s white-ball setup, being one of the experienced players in the team. The all-rounder mentioned that he is open to taking new roles in the team and would not mind emulating Dhoni’s role of being India’s mainstay with the bat while speaking at a press conference after the team’s mammoth 168-run victory against New Zealand in Ahmedabad at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Wednesday.
“In that way, maybe I have to get my strike rate down. Taking new opportunities or taking new roles is something I’ve always looked forward to. I don’t mind coming in and playing the role which somewhere down the line Maahi [MS Dhoni] used to play. I think at that time, I was young, and I was hitting all around the park, but now since he has gone, all of a sudden that responsibility. It has naturally come to me, and I don’t mind [doing it]. We’re getting the result we want and it’s okay,” stated Pandya.
The Gujarat Titans skipper expressed that he relishes hitting sixes but wants to provide the team with a sense of calm and assurance as playing attacking shots involves an element of risk. He further stated that being a senior in the team he has undergone pressure situations numerous times and has developed the ability to soak in the pressure and keep cool in crunch situations. “See, to be honest, I’ve always enjoyed hitting sixes, but I have to evolve and that is life. I have to take the other part where I’ve always believed in partnerships.
I want to give my team and the other person more calmness and the assurance that at least I’m there. I’ve played more games than any of those guys out there. So, I’ve known the experience and more than the experience part, it’s where I’ve batted, and I’ve learnt how to accept pressure and I’ve learnt how to swallow kind of the pressure and make sure the team and everything are calm,” explained the rightarm pacer.
Talking about his return to Test cricket, he said, “I will come [back] when I feel its the right time to play Testmatch cricket. Right now, I’m going to focus on whiteball cricket, which is important, and if time is right and body is fine, I’ll give [the long format] a try.” Hardik hasn’t played redball cricket at the senior level since undergoing back surgery in 2019. His last Test was in Southampton in 2018, and he also played in the Ranji Trophy that year. With an ODI World Cup in India scheduled for October-November this year and a T20 World Cup in the Caribbean scheduled for 2024, India’s stand-in T20I captain Hardik has prioritised white-ball cricket over Test cricket.