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Top Performer: What a sensational debut!

By HARISH KOTIAN
March 24, 2021 09:15 IST
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Krunal Pandya

IMAGE: Krunal Pandya gestures to the heavens after scoring a fifty during the first ODI against England in Pune on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.
'This one is for my father,' he said, remembering his father Himanshu Pandya who passed away in January. Photograph: BCCI
 

If Krunal Pandya's smashing performance with the bat was total entertainment for the fans, watching him break down while talking about his batting during the innings break left many thousands of viewers emotional.

Krunal forced his way into the Indian team with a superb showing with the bat in the Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day tournament and continued that good form in the opening ODI against England on Tuesday.

The left-hander blasted an unbeaten 58 from 31 balls, hitting seven fours and two sixes, to rally India to 317 for five in their 50 overs after they were reduced to 205/5 at one stage.

Krunal strode out to the middle after younger brother Hardik was caught in the slips off Ben Stokes for one.

It was a superb comeback from the England bowlers as they brought their team back into the contest by picking up four wickets for 36 runs in the space of 8.2 overs.

Krunal's arrival completely changed the complexion of the Indian innings. He went on the counter-attack from the word go, hitting Sam Curran for three boundaries in four balls in the 42nd over.

The left-hander drove Stokes for a four through the covers for his fourth over to get the Indian innings going. His approach had an effect on partner K L Rahul who lofted Adil Rashid for a straight six in the 44th over.

The two batsmen turned it on towards the end as Krunal and Rahul hit a four each off Tom Curran in the 45th over, the former hitting the pacer for a six in his next over.

Mark Wood also suffered as Rahul smashed him for a six over midwicket. Krunal then crashed a wide delivery through the covers for a four before playing the ramp shot off a short ball over third-man for a six.

He brought up his fifty in the penultimate over off just 26 balls -- the fastest half-century by a debutant in ODIs, going past the record jointly held by England's Roland Butcher and John Morris, who had both got there off 35 balls.

Krunal's aggressive approach was a big help for Rahul, who bounced back to form as he brought up his fifty from 39 balls in the same over.

Krunal -- who turns 30 today, March 24 -- finished unbeaten on a whirlwind innings of 58 from 31 balls, while Rahul smashed 62 from 43 balls to take the game away from England in the last 10 overs, in which India smashed as many as 112 runs.

The duo were involved in an unbroken stand of 112 runs for the sixth wicket from 57 balls to power India to 317 for five in their 50 overs.

Krunal was overwhelmed by emotion while being interviewed after his blistering knock as he remembered his late father Himanshu who passed away in January.

'This one is for my father,' was all Krunal could tell commentator Murali Kartik before breaking into tears.

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