India beat New Zealand by 168 runs in the third match at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, February 1, and clinched the three-match T20I series 2-1. Former Indian cricketer Mohammad Kaif praised Hardik Pandya for backing his openers Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan and giving them a long rope before dropping them from the playing XI.
Shubman Gill is at the peak of his career and became the youngest Indian batter to score centuries across all three formats. The right-handed batter smashed his maiden T20I century, scoring 126 runs off 63 balls to help India reach a mammoth total of 234/4 in 20 overs. The hosts bowled out the Black Caps for 66 runs to record their highest win in the shortest format.
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He Played The Same Team Today As Well – Mohammad Kaif
During a post-match discussion on Star Sports, Mohammad Kaif said that Hardik Pandya made the right decision to play with the same batting line-up instead of being tempted to pick Prithvi Shaw in the series decider.
“The captain has a huge role in deciding the XI you are going to play. You become greedy at times, when players are sitting in the squad, that your openers are not firing and it is a big decider, so (Prithvi) Shaw can probably do that job.”
“There were many moments when he took the right decision. He played the same team today as well. It was a different thing that Ishan Kishan got out but the decision was correct. He backed (Shubman) Gill and said at the toss that he will bat.”
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This Is Hardik Pandya’s Strength – Mohammad Kaif
The cricketer-turned-commentator lauded Hardik Pandya’s mentality and said the Gujarat Titans captain took a brave decision to bat on a pitch where the dew could decide the match.
“Everyone was saying that you can chase here, dew also came later, but he knew that they can win by batting first on this pitch. And the way you batted, you scored 230-odd runs, the match was over there itself. This is Hardik Pandya’s strength.”
Following the T2I series, India will play a four-match Test series against Australia, with the first Test set to begin at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur from February 9.
Also read: IND vs AUS: “He Hasn’t Got Starts And Where He Has Got Them, He Has Not Been Able To Utilize Them” – Aakash Chopra On Ishan Kishan’s Poor Performances
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