Hardik Pandya on Tuesday (September 28) played a key role in Mumbai Indians’ (MI) 6-wicket victory over Punjab Kings (PBKS) in Abu Dhabi.
Chasing 136 to win, the defending champions were struggling at 92/4 after 15.1 overs and it was then Pandya stepped up to the plate.
The all-rounder, who was struggling to get runs in the UAE-leg of IPL 2021, wreaked havoc on Punjab bowlers and scored 40 not out off 30 balls (4 fours and 2 sixes) to take MI over the line with an over to spare.
Speaking after the game, MI skipper Rohit Sharma showered rich praise on Hardik, who also silenced the critics questioning his place in India’s T20 World Cup 2021 squad.
“The way he (Hardik) batted, the way he understood the situation was very crucial from the team’s perspective and then obviously for his confidence as well. He took his time and then he knew when to start hitting the ball. It’s important for him to spend some time in the middle. He is coming back from an injury. That was crucial,” Rohit said in the post-match presentation ceremony.
It was Mumbai’s first victory in the UAE-leg of IPL 2021 after being beaten by CSK, KKR, and RCB in the last three outings. They are now occupying a fifth place on the points table with 5 wins from 11 games.
“We do agree that we didn’t play to our potential, but it’s a long tournament and we need to stick to our plans and reading the situations is very important and we can take a lot of confidence from that. Important not to lose the guard,” Rohit said.
The MI management took some difficult decisions for this game as they dropped struggling Ishan Kishan and included Saurabh Tiwary, who lived up to the expectations with an impressive knock of 37-ball 45.
“It’s a tough call (dropping Ishan) and he seems very confident and the reply you get from him was very boosting as well. Saurabh has played the perfect role today and he’s done well to nudge around in the middle overs. We are gonna back him as he’s a very important player for us,” Rohit stated.
Mumbai Indians will take on Delhi Capitals in their next match on Saturday (October 2) in Sharjah.