Hardik Pandya will captain India for the first time when the men in blue lock horns with Ireland in a two-match T20I series, starting Sunday. The first game will be played at the Castle Avenue in Dublin. 

Pandya had a difficult last year. An injury forced him out of the Indian squad for a long time. He returned for the World Cup but did not bowl. The 28-year-old was no longer a premier all-rounder for India. 

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However, Hardik Pandya managed to achieve fitness and took on the captain’s role, for the first time in his career, with the Gujarat Titans in IPL 2022. He not only led the team to the title but on the way established his might as player and skipper. The former Mumbai player finished the season with 487 runs and eight wickets. 

He was Rishabh Pant’s deputy during the tied South Africa series and Pandya is finally ready to wear the armband. 

Talking about his new role ahead of the first T20I vs Ireland, Hardik Pandya said,”I liked to take responsibilities before and I still like to do it now. I’ve always maintained that I’ve done well when I have been given responsibilities. Even when I was an individual and not a captain, the focus was always on taking ownership and taking my decisions, which helps me remain strong.”

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“Cricket is such a game that you have to remain strong in different situations. I feel because of the responsibilities given to me or when I give responsibilities to others, it has made me better. And I’ll try to reflect that in my captaincy – how to give players responsibilities and also give them confidence, give them the ability to handle situations.”

Pandya is expected to be a key player in India’s build-up to the T20 World Cup that will be held in Australia

“I’m not here to show anything to anyone. I’ve got an opportunity to lead India, that itself is a big thing. I don’t seek or play this sport to show anything to anybody. So if I’m good enough, I’ll see in the future. Otherwise, more than anything, I’m just focussing on what I can do best in this series,” he said.