India skipper Rohit Sharma wants the team to step away from what it had been doing for the past five-six years and has given the players security and freedom to express themselves, says star all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
“Ro (Rohit Sharma) gives you a lot of flexibility and freedom, which is his strength throughout his captaincy stint whenever I have played with him," said Pandya, after India's seven-wicket victory over the West Indies in the third T20I in Basseterre, St. Kitts, on Tuesday.
"A lot of credit goes to him and Rahul Dravid, the way they have got the team together and making sure a lot of positive mindset comes in and players are feeling secure; they are not looking over their shoulder; making sure they are getting ample chances; they are getting told as well if they are not playing, and that is something which is commendable."
India chased down a target of 165 easily on a slow surface at Warner Park to take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
"Credit again goes to Ro and the coach. We were all having a chat about how we should go about the slow wicket; do we still want to continue this style of play?
"He gave us the freedom, saying that you know what, forget about the results, we are trying something new, we are going to make mistakes, we are going to learn from it.
"But what we have been doing for five-six years, we are going to go away from that, and make sure that we try everything and all options that are available, and when it comes to the World Cup, we'll know how to play."
Pandya also heaped praise on Suryakumar Yadav, who scored 76 off 44 balls to emerge India’s most-successful batter in the third game.
"Surya is someone who is an exceptional player. When he starts playing... some shots which he plays, you just go in awe. Today he played an amazing knock and it was not at all easy.
"A lot of credit goes to him. He has worked hard and is getting his due."
Hardik also extolled the current Indian middle order, comprising the likes of Rishabh Pant, Deepak Hooda and Ravindra Jadeja, for its fine performances.
"It gives a lot of confidence to see how they play every time. Even when we are three wickets down on 10, the opposition are still aware of the fact that this same team can post a strong total of 190 with the help of the middle-order batters."
Hardik said it was necessary for him to take some time off from bowling during his post-injury recovery phase and he is now confident of chipping in as the team's third pacer during the T20 World Cup.
"I have always enjoyed bowling. I mentioned multiple times that I felt (that time) that I should take some time off to make sure that bowling comes back. Whenever I bowl well, it gives a lot of balance to this side and gives confidence to the captain.
"I used to bowl as a filler before in between if someone was not bowling, now I can probably say that I can bowl four overs as a third or fourth seamer where I can contribute equally as I do with my bat.
"I am extremely grateful for what life has awarded me with so far. If you work hard with utmost honesty, you will be eventually rewarded, despite the ups and downs in life," he added.
India will take on the West Indies in the fourth T20I, at Lauderhill in Florida, on Saturday.