If his performance in the Champions Trophy and Sri Lanka were not enough to convince the detractors, Hardik Pandya has surely managed to win them over with his coming-of-the-age fulfilment in the recently-concluded series against Australia.
His whirlwind knock in the final of the Champions Trophy and his performance in the Test series against Sri Lanka were enough to showcase his real potential, and his recent all-round performances against the world champions are good enough to enhance his reputation as the rising star of world cricket. Not only with the bat, but the 23-year old also contribute immensely with the ball.
In the first game, he played a decisive knock of 83 off just 66 balls to take India to a respectable total when they were reeling at 87 for 5. He complemented it with a couple of wickets including the prized scalp of Steve Smith. In the next game, he once again took two wickets and scored 20 runs before scoring a match-winning knock of 78 when promoted at number 4 in the third game. In the fourth game, he was promoted to number 4 again and scored a crucial 41, but it came in a losing cause. And although he did not get a chance to bat in the fifth and final ODI on Sunday (October 1), he made his mark with the ball, breaking the 66-run stand between Aaron Finch and David Warner.
The all-rounder finished the series with 222 runs and six wickets and deservedly won the Man of the Series award. Speaking after the win in the fifth game, Pandya said he is only focusing on improving his game and expressed his delight over becoming the Man of the Series.
“When I went to bat at No. 4, got a few runs, and the team won the series. There is always a scope of improvement. I’m just focusing on that, working hard on my fitness. Pretty important to keep myself fit. It’s always a pleasure to play against Australia. I was looking forward to this series. Really happy that I got this award, and we won the series,” he said at the presentation ceremony