He is the man of the moment, having contributed a 37-ball 40 in a century stand with Virat Kohli in a nerve-wracking chase, apart from finding the perfect length for the surface and taking three Pakistani wickets.
Responding to a question by TOI on how his approach and preparation for such high-pressure competitions has changed over time, and how he manages to remain so relaxed during the big event, Pandya was candid. “You just become the hero in these games. I’ve always enjoyed it (performing under pressure).
“I don’t want to perform in a dead rubber match where my team is already on the cross and I come and score 80. That’s not what I like. I like to score those 40s and 50s at crucial times, when my team needs them the most. Also, I’ve taken out the fear of failure. I don’t care (about) what’s going to happen…is the result going to be what people are going to talk about? I respect everyone’s opinion but I don’t don’t think about outcomes.”
So what if India ended up one run against Pakistan? Would he still be the same after the game, he was asked. “I said that, even with (with) three balls left I told the boys, even if we lose it, it’s okay, we fought in this game,” Hardik said.
“As a team, we worked really hard…individually, collectively. Even if we lost, I would still have a smile on my face. We gave it our all. Somewhere along the line, I accepted the fact that this sport will give me ups and downs. The more ups I have, good (sic). Even if there are downs, I will cherish those moments too because failure teaches you many things.”
Pandya was in awe of Virat Kohli’s twin sixes off Harris Rauf in the 19th over, especially the first one, a straight six off a short of length ball.
“I’m someone who’s very calm inside, but I screamed. It meant a lot. It was one of two crucial shots for us. If we’d got even one less six in those two balls, we’d have had to bat out of our skin in the last over. It was one of the most beautiful things I have witnessed.”