Hardik Pandya has declared that he can now bowl four overs in T20Is as the “third or fourth seamer” instead of only performing a part-time role with the ball. The all-rounder has sent down 26 overs in ten T20I innings since his comeback to the India side in June, and was the most economical bowler in the third T20I against West Indies in St Kitts on Tuesday, conceding just 19 runs in four overs for the wicket of opener Brandon King. Pandya has achieved a major turnaround from the 2021 T20 World Cup, in which he bowled just four overs in five games and played almost as a specialist batsman.
“I have always enjoyed bowling whenever I was bowling. That was the reason I had felt I should take some time off so that my bowling comes in. I have realised that when I bowl it gives a lot of balance to the side, it gives a lot of confidence to the captain,” Hardik Pandya said after India’s seven-wicket win at Warner Park in Basseterre.
“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.”
Pandya’s bowling comeback had started in the Indian Premier League 2022, when he had sent down 30.3 overs in ten innings at an economy-rate of 7.27 for Gujarat Titans. He said that he had been working on adding more options to his bowling after getting hit around a few times.
Top win 💯🇮🇳 We move forward. pic.twitter.com/UMhURXJCBj
— hardik pandya (@hardikpandya7) August 3, 2022
“In bowling, It took me some time to understand my strengths and weaknesses. In T20 I got whacked a couple of times. But this sport is about that. If someone hits you and you are strong enough, chances are you are going to learn something. For me it was about how I could stop the batter from hitting me, and I was able to add more variations to my bowling and now I think it is coming pretty alright.”
With the bat, Pandya is averaging 31.62 and striking at 136.75 in 11 innings since his India return. He said that he wasn’t looking to bat in a particular way, but was looking to adapt to the situation he walks into. And if that needed defending for a while, the India vice-captain for the West Indies T20I series was prepared to do so as he had the leeway from the team management.
“The coach and captain have given me the freedom to bat the way I want to. That gives you a boost if your coach and captain show that much faith in you.
“Very privileged to be the vice-captain… I have always enjoyed responsibility and it has added more and more to my game because it makes me think more, and when I think more, it adds more value to my cricket.”