Dubai: India captain Rohit Sharma feels Hardik Pandya has returned with a better understanding of his game and is more confident about what he wants to do with both bat and ball.
Hardik put up an all-around effort to help India register a five-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan in their Asia Cup opener Sunday.
With the ball he snared three wickets, including that of the dangerous Mohammad Rizwan, before dazzling with a 17-ball unbeaten 33, showing his high value under extreme pressure.
For Rohit, Hardik is a man, who now knows what he needs to do in specific situations.
“Since the time he (Hardik) has made his comeback, he’s been brilliant. When he was not part of the team, he figured what he needs to do to his body and his fitness regime, and now he is clocking 140+ easily,” Rohit said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“His batting quality we all know and it’s been brilliant since his comeback. He is a lot calmer now and more confident about what he wants to do, whether it’s with the bat or with the ball,” he added.
The fact that Hardik can bowl quick was on display Sunday.
“He can bowl really quickly, we saw that today with those short balls. It was always about just understanding his game and he’s doing that well now. In a high-pressure with 10 runs per over needed, you can panic but he never showed any of that.”
Despite restricting Pakistan to a below-par 147, it was not a straightforward chase for India as the top order faltered.
“Halfway through the chase, we still knew that we can win irrespective of the situation. We had the belief and when you have that belief, these things can happen,” Rohit said.
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam felt his bowlers did well to make the chase a tricky one.
“The way we started (with the ball), was great. We were about 10-15 runs short. “Bowlers did really well to make a match of this. Our tail did step up a bit to add those handy runs,” Babar said.
On left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz bowling the last over, Babar said: “Thought was to take the game deep. Idea was to create pressure but Hardik finished well.”
Pacer Naseem Shah picked up two wickets on his T20I debut and the skipper was lavish in his praise for the youngster.
“He (Naseem) is a very young bowler but bowled so well, and showed so much aggression.”