Motta bhai, aka Hardik Pandya, once again showed why he is going to be a key man for India in the coming T20 World Cup in less than 100 days in Australia by first picking 4 crucial wickets and then scoring a match winning 71 runs off 55 balls against England.
He picked up the big wickets of Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone for just 24 runs. Most of the wickets he got was with the short ball. He toyed with the egos of the English players who all played into his hands. They wanted to go after him and they paid the price by giving their wickets cheaply to Pandya who persisted with short balls inspite of going for some runs. But in the end he got the better of them.
And when India were chasing 259 runs and once again lost their top order of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav and were tottering at 81/4 and staring at defeat, he counter attacked the English bowlers by putting on a partnership of 133 with Rishabh Pant before he got carried away with one shot too many and lost his wicket to a brilliant catch by Ben Stokes.
No doubt Pant was equally important in India pulling off the chase with a magnificent hundred, but Pandya’s all-round performance helped India pull off the ODI series against England. Motta bhai once again proved like in the IPL that he is India’s X-factor and the future captain of the team.