Rohit Sharma, Rahul Dravid provide freedom, security says Pandya

Hardik Pandya has said India skipper Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid provide increased freedom, security, and communication for players of team India.

“Ro gives you a lot of flexibility and freedom, which is his strength throughout his captaincy stint whenever I have played with him,” Pandya said.

After winning 2-1 over West Indies in St. Kitts, Pandya said that Sharma wanted the side to change the way they played from what had been done for the past five-six years under the leadership of former captain Virat Kohli. Previously, the team had shown a consistently aggressive batting approach since the 2021 T20 World Cup.

“Here as well, a lot of credit goes to him and Rahul Dravid the way they have got the team together and making sure a lot of positive mindset comes in and players are feeling secure," Pandya said.

"They are not looking over their shoulder—making sure they are getting ample chances—they are getting told as well if they are not playing, and that is something which is commendable," Pandya said.

Pandya said the team discussed whether they should keep their aggressive batting approach. He said the captain told India players they would keep trying different things with the 2022 T20 World Cup in mind.

One of the things that team India has tried is to open a series with Suryakumar Yadav.

“The way we are putting bowlers under pressure, even they are thinking that this Indian team, even if it is 10 for 3, will not look to play out the 20 overs,” Pandya said.

“It is thinking that how can we reach 190 even from here. That attitude is making this team look more dangerous, and we will try to continue that.”

Sharma said India had not been playing conservative T20I cricket in the past few years and that the only thing he changed was giving the team more freedom in their play.

Bowling improvement

Pandya has made major improvements from the 2021 T20 World Cup, where he bowled four overs in five games and played almost as a specialist batsman. After India’s seven-wicket win against West Indies at Warner Park in Basseterre, he said he had always enjoyed bowling.

“I have always enjoyed bowling whenever I was bowling. That was the reason I had felt I should take some time off so that my bowling comes in. I have realised that when I bowl it gives a lot of balance to the side, it gives a lot of confidence to the captain,” he said.

“I used to bowl as a filler before in between if someone was not bowling, now I can probably say that I can bowl four overs as a third or fourth seamer where I can contribute equally as I do with my bat.”

Pandya returned to bowling in the 2022 Indian Premier League. While playing for the Gujarat Titans, he sent down 30.3 overs in ten innings at an economy rate of 7.27. He claimed he had been adding more options to his bowling after getting hit a few times.

“In bowling, It took me some time to understand my strengths and weaknesses. In T20 I got whacked a couple of times. But this sport is about that,” Pandya said.

"If someone hits you and you are strong enough, chances are you are going to learn something. For me, it was about how I could stop the batter from hitting me, and I was able to add more variations to my bowling and now I think it is coming pretty alright."

Gian Chacko

Sports enthusiast with love for cricket, football and sports in general. Holds 10+ years of following and writing about sports and lately also betting.