Mumbai Indians (MI) all-rounder Hardik Pandya has revealed that he was looking to enjoy himself during his scintillating cameo (30 not out off 11) against Punjab Kings (PBKS) in Abu Dhabi last season.
MI skipper Rohit Sharma top-scored with 70 off 45 while Kieron Pollard smashed an unbeaten 47 off 28 as Mumbai batted first. Hardik Pandya’s brutal innings at the end lifted the team to 191 for 4. MI went on to comfortably win the game by 48 runs.
MI and PBKS will battle it out again at the same venue tonight in match number 42 of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021. Ahead of the clash, Hardik Pandya reflected on his innings against the same opponents last season.
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In a video shared on MI’s official Twitter handle, he said:
“You are alone batting there, with your partner. There are 11 of them. So, you need to feel like a boss. You need to feel like you have that aura where everyone is going to think – oh, what is going to happen now.”
Hardik Pandya added that, in the first couple of matches last year, he was timing the ball well but wasn’t able to finish his innings properly. He explained:
“First couple of games, I was hitting well but I didn’t finish the way I always do. So, it was added motivation as well for me.”
He recalled that the first six he hit in his innings against PBKS lifted his confidence to a different level. Hardik Pandya concluded:
“Polly (Kieron Pollard) was batting well. I decided in that game I was just going to enjoy. I think first ball, I went and I hit a six or something like that. That six made it look like… all of a sudden my body opened up. My mind said like, come on, today’s the day. Then, I had to go and do what I did. Once I got rhythm… 11 balls, 30 runs. Not bad.”
MI went on to lift the IPL trophy last year, defeating Delhi Capitals (DC) in the final. Hardik Pandya contributed 281 runs in 14 matches in IPL 2020, scoring at a strike rate of 178.98.
Hardik Pandya’s form in IPL 2021
Hardik Pandya has not had a great run in the IPL this year. He struggled to time the ball cleanly in the first half in India on pitches where the ball did not come on to the bat.
After missing the first two games of the UAE leg, he was dismissed for 3 against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) as MI succumbed to their third consecutive defeat in the second half.
The 27-year-old has only managed 55 runs in eight IPL 2021 matches at a strike rate of 110.