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Pujara Praises Pandya

By Anand Subramaniam
January 7 2018

Hardik Pandya's heroics with bat and ball are allowing India to just about cling on to the Test.  Others need to follow suit if India are to turn the tables on SA

Intent, no holds barred, totally raw and fearless – these were some of the few characteristics of Hardik Pandya’s batting on Day 2 at Newlands, Cape Town. He was peppered with the short stuff, dealt with blows to his belly, but not once did Pandya flinch or get perturbed by what was going around him. It was almost as if he had created a shield around himself and was ready to face whatever was thrown at him by the four-pronged pace attack.

Rest assured there was no respite or one particular bowler he could target. He had to play the patience game and showcase his daredevilry on occasions where he could. And, that he did which surely impressed the Indian dressing room.

“We all always believed that he can play such an innings, and once he played, the environment in the dressing room was quite positive,” Pujara said. “Those runs were very important for the team and kept us in the game. If he hadn’t scored those runs, we would have been under trouble. He kept us in the game and got us two wickets also at the end of the day’s play. So, his performance was outstanding.”

For Puajra though, Pandya’s intent and character at such a young age on such a grand stage away from home was the highlighting factor. “He batted really well, showed a lot of character. He hasn’t played many Test matches away from home, but we expect that kind of an innings if he is in the playing XI. I think if someone who is very promising, he is batting well and bowling well, it makes a lot of difference to the team because when you have a very good all-rounder, it balances your team combination. I hope he continues like this.”

Also, what was noticeable in Pandya’s innings of 93 was the fact that he didn’t stop himself from playing shots. If there was an opportunity, he would go all out and if at all there was a phase when runs were difficult to come, he would try and create situations that would let him play his natural game. Pujara felt, there was no need of tinkering with Pandya’s natural instincts.

“I think it was a case of him playing his natural game. He is someone who likes to play his shots. That’s how he would bat in any situation. This was the ideal situation for him to express himself. The moment he tries playing his shots he is successful. We have seen that against Sri Lanka as well. When he started playing his shots he was a different player altogether. That’s how he should be playing, and this is what makes him a different player from a top order batsman.”

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