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Hardik says youngsters in team making his journey easy

Source: PTI
January 08, 2023 11:43 IST
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India players celebrate with the trophy after beating Sri Lanka in the third T20I and wrapping the series 2-1, at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, in Rajkot, on Saturday.

IMAGE: India players celebrate with the trophy after beating Sri Lanka in the third T20I and wrapping the series 2-1, at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, in Rajkot, on Saturday. Photograph: BCCI

Captaining a young side could be tricky, but Hardik Pandya, who led India to a 2-1 series win over Asian champions Sri Lanka, feels it was not that difficult, as he just had to ensure that they "belong at this level".

The three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka saw the Indian set-up begin a new era under the leadership of Pandya.


"It's actually not that difficult. My life becomes very easy when the experienced players are there. I don't say much to them because they are here because they have done a lot of good things in their lives," said Pandya, after leading the team to a series win in Rajkot on Saturday.

The Indian team was without the three senior batters -- Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli -- while the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah were also absent for various reasons.

India began the series by edging past a settled Sri Lanka side, under Dasun Shanaka, by two runs in the first T20I in Mumbai.

In the second T20I in Pune, India fell by the wayside chasing a stiff 207, while in the series-decider Suryakumar Yadav led the show with an unbeaten 112 from 51 balls to propel the hosts to 228 for 5. The target proved too much for the Lankas, who folded for 137 in 16.4 overs.

Backing his young group, India’s new skipper said the players may make mistakes but it's about accepting and learning from them.

"Managing is not difficult, but, yes, it's a young group. They will make mistakes, they will learn from it; something that we have emphasised that once you make a mistake you make sure that you learn from it. Acceptance is very important in this sport. If you don't expect it, things go very far.

"But when a young team is there, the only thing I can help them is about giving them confidence, how to make sure they are at a level, when they are playing here, they feel that they belong here.

"That is very important in international cricket. In this group, it's a very good journey. Youngsters are willing to learn and it makes my journey very easy."

'SKY's clarity makes him so explosive'

Hardik was all praise for Suryakumar's explosive century.

"Today it felt like Sri Lanka against Surya. It makes my life very easy. I always mention that someone like Surya is so important for us in white-ball cricket.

"The way he plays some shots, the way he changes the game, it actually breaks the morale of the bowler and which kind of helps the other batter as well."

Asked if he had any special word for the way Surya batted, Pandya replied: "You don't tell him anything. Surya, the kind of form he's playing and the clarity he has you don't really need to speak to him.

"He is always very clear about his plans and that's the reason he's successful in this format. He doesn't doubt his ability. Wherever he's in double minds, he always comes and have a chat. I don't think anyone has to say anything to him."

'Tripathi showed great intent, seized momentum'

Electing to bat, India had a jittery start, losing Ishan Kishan in the first over but thereafter Rahul Tripathi seized the momentum with a 16-ball 35.

Pandya was quick to acknowledge the Maharashtra batter's knock.

"Special mention to Rahul Tripathi as well, the kind of intent he showed that is something which is so natural to him. It can change the momentum of the game.

"If you see the first couple of overs the ball was doing something, and people from the outside thought there's something there in the wicket.

"But because of his intent all of a sudden the ball stopped moving, they changed their length, and then it was all about as if they were chasing the game. Overall, it was terrific from Surya and Tripathi."

On Team India's aggressive approach, he said: "It's not always that we will play aggressive in terms of hitting. There might be a case where we do the same thing but we end up scoring 150.

"But what is important is the intent; you look for a boundary but when a good ball is there you respect that ball. But if you have a defensive mindset, even if a bad ball is there, you are not able to put that away."

"The wicket was suitable for the batters once it got old. But it's more about the intent and signs of aggression that we showed that was important on a tricky wicket. It just makes a difference of 10 runs which can be decisive overall."

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