All-rounder Hardik Pandya received lauds from veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin when the stand-in skipper channelled his inner MS Dhoni while responding to a query about his teammate Sanju Samson. With India continuing its leadership reshuffle following the conclusion of the T20 World Cup, Hardik Pandya was once again appointed as the leader of the Indian T20I side for their overseas assignment in New Zealand.
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The latest entrant to India’s leadership group, Hardik, was asked about Samson’s non-selection in the XI of the Asian giants in the two opportunities that India got – the first match was washed out without a ball being bowled. With gloveman Rishabh Pant re-instated as the No.1 choice, wicketkeeper-batter Samson was asked to warm the bench throughout the three-match series T20I between India and New Zealand. When asked about Samson’s ouster, Pandya opted to take a cue from Dhoni while explaining the absence of the Rajasthan Royals (RR) capital from the Indian playing XI after the series decider.
“He knows it’s not personal. It’s got to do with the situation. I am a peoples’ person. So if anyone needs me, I will be there for them. Everyone knows that if they feel anything at all, my doors are always open for them to come and have a chat with me, because I understand how they are feeling,” Pandya told reporters.
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Taking cognisance of Pandya’s brilliant response, Team India star Ashwin gave a special mention to the white-ball maverick on his YouTube channel. “I don’t know if he wanted to say that in Thala Dhoni’s style because we all know that Hardik is super close to Thala Dhoni. He handled a tricky question that is always trending on social media very beautifully. So, kudos to Hardik,” Ashwin said.
Branded as the ideal successor of skipper Rohit Sharma in white-ball cricket, Pandya played an unbeaten knock of 30 off just 18 balls in the third and final T20I of the bilateral series at McLean Park. “Hardik Pandya replicated what he did for Gujarat Titans with the bat. He came out with all guns blazing. That was the only reason the match got tied,” Ashwin added.