Sri Lanka vs India 2017: One Thing I Learned from Mahi Bhai is that You Always Put Your Team Ahead – Hardik Pandya
Prior to the ongoing third Test against Sri Lanka, Hardik Pandya had no first-class century to his name. In fact, the all-rounder took a while when he was asked in the post-day presser when was the last time he reached the three-digit mark.
However, never did he give even the remotest of ideas of being nervous when he was taking the Sri Lankan bowlers to the cleaners en route to his whirlwind 108-run knock on the second day of the Pallekele Test.
India were in a precarious position after Wriddhiman Saha departed very early on the second day, leaving the team reeling at 339 for seven. However, it was all Pandya show thereafter as the all-rounder, who made his debut in the series-opener at Galle, blew away the Sri Lankan bowlers, reaching his century off just 86 balls and helping India to post a commanding 487.
Speaking after the day’s play, a delighted Pandya credited his teammate and former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for putting the team ahead in all situations which helped him to avoid the ‘butterflies during the 90s’.
“First time in my life I have not had the 90s butterfly,” he said. “Otherwise – I don’t remember previous centuries but – I used to have butterflies from how much I can remember. In today’s game – I have said earlier as well – that when I bat, I am in a different zone. When I bat, I don’t think about my personal scores and achievements. It has helped me enough. One thing I learned from Mahi bhai is that you always put your team ahead, see the scoreboard and play accordingly. That has helped me throughout.”
Malinda Pushpakumara faced the wrath of Pandya, as the left-arm spinner conceded 26 runs in an over. That over made Pandya the Indian player with most runs in a Test over.
“It just happened, honestly I didn’t want to go all out in that over, but I don’t know what happened,” Pandya said. “Maybe I was connecting pretty well, let me try this over and scored 26 runs. [It] feels obviously good. From there I saw the scoreboard, and I was batting on 80 and I was like, “Wow.” Then I noticed I was in the zone, I don’t usually look at the scoreboard, I don’t want to know what’s happening around. I just focus on how I can help the innings progress.”
When asked whether he was finding it challenging to hit it over the ropes when as many as nine men were standing near the boundary rope, he said:
“Could there have been a bigger opportunity than that?” Nine wickets were already down and I knew if I stay in the crease and connect the ball well, it would go for six. Even if I were to mis-hit, I had to. I had no choice. It was an ideal opportunity, and obviously, there was a team’s goal and which was to get to 400. We scored close to 490.”
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