A cool Hardik Pandya looked at Dinesh Karthik at the non-batting end and nodded as if to say, “I’ve got it.” A few seconds later he smashed the ball over long on for a six, winning India their Asia Cup opener against Pakistan. With two balls to spare.  

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Hardik, who was described as a gladiator by a commentator, won player of the match. He was unbeaten at 33 runs off 17 balls, helping India chase 148 runs. In the first innings, he tormented the Pakistani batting order with his sharp short balls, finishing with figures of 3/25.

The 28-year-old picked wickets of Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed and Khushdil.

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“In bowling, it’s important to assess the situations and use your weapons. For me, bowling short and the hard lengths have been my strengths. It’s about using them well and asking the right questions to make the batters commit a mistake,” Hardik Pandya said at the post-match awards ceremony.

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India, he said, needed seven to win off the last over, but “even if we needed 15, I would have fancied myself,” adding, “I know the bowler is under more pressure than me in the 20th over..I try to keep things simple.”

Skipper Rohit Sharma also praised Pandya, saying the all-rounder has been brilliant since his comeback in IPL 2022. 

“Halfway through the chase, we still knew that we can win irrespective of the situation. We had the belief and when you have that belief, these things can happen,” Sharma said.

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For Rohit, Hardik is a man, who now knows what he needs to do in specific situations.

“Since the time he (Hardik) has made his comeback, he’s been brilliant. When he was not part of the team, he figured what he needs to do to his body and his fitness regime, and now he is clocking 140+ easily.”