The 'Virat Kohli Factor' Behind Hardik Pandya's Unbeaten 70 In 3rd ODI
Hardik Pandya played an unbeaten knock of 70 runs off 52 balls against West Indies in the 3rd ODI
Star all-rounder Hardik Pandya said stalwarts Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli needed to be rested for the second and third ODIs against West Indies to help India give opportunities to youngsters ahead of the World Cup. Skipper Rohit and former captain Kohli were rested once again in the final ODI of the series, which India won 2-1 after a whopping 200-run victory here on Tuesday under Hardik's leadership. "Virat and Rohit are very integral part of the team. And, you know, obviously, this was very important for someone like Rutu (Ruturaj Gaikwad) to get a game or Axar (Patel) to get a game because they've been playing cricket for so many years, they know how exactly all these situations have been.
"So kind of giving the youngsters exposure and kind of making sure that if we want to check something, we have the opportunity to do it," Hardik said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
After failing to fire in the first two matches, Hardik blazed away to an unbeaten 52-ball 70 in the series-deciding third ODI, and he thanked Kohli for helping him out during a "wonderful" chat.
"I had a very wonderful chat with Virat a couple of days back, and the kind of input he gave me, he has seen me throughout the years. It's been almost seven or eight years of international cricket and he has seen me from day one.
"He just wanted me to spend some time at the crease and get used to the 50-over game. He had some great pointers. That kind of stayed in my mind," Hardik said.
"I was just waiting to get the opportunity and once I got the rhythm I could get going. When I get one ball out of the middle, things become very different. I have seen that throughout my career." Having suffered defeat in the second ODI, India were in danger of losing their first series in the Caribbean in 17 years, but an all-round effort ensured a thumping victory for the visitors.
"If I'm being very honest, as a captain I look forward to these kind of games where something is on the line and not just an international game. We knew that if we failed, there would be some disappointment," Hardik said.
"The way the boys came out and showed their character and at the same point of time they enjoyed it, that's something I want this team to have. In pressure situations, they have to absorb it but also enjoy it. Without pressure you can't be heroes." In the final ODI, India were always ahead after making an imposing 351 for five after being asked to bat first.
Shubman Gill struck 85 off 92 balls and, along with in-form Ishan Kishan (77 off 64 balls), set the platform for a massive score.
Sanju Samson (51 off 41 balls) made a compelling case to be picked as a reserve middle-order batter while Hardik smashed five sixes and four boundaries on a good batting strip.
The chase was always out of question and Mukesh Kumar's three-wicket burst with some quality seam bowling in the first powerplay dashed the West Indies' hopes as they were shot out for 151 in only 35.3 overs.
On the India seamers, Hardik said, "The ball was doing a bit. When you are chasing 350, batters will chase a few balls and they nick it and that's what happened to us. Couple of good catches by Shubman as well.
"Obviously West Indies woke up kind of late with that partnership and took the game to the 34th over but the game was over in the powerplay itself."
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