India’s star all-rounder, Hardik Pandya, revealed that the decision to rest Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli for the second and third ODIs against West Indies was to provide opportunities to young players ahead of the World Cup. With the series level at 1-1, India decided to field a younger squad for the final ODI, which they went on to win by a massive 200 runs under Hardik’s leadership.
“Virat and Rohit are a very integral part of the team. It was important for someone like Ruturaj Gaikwad to get a game or Axar Patel to get a game because they’ve been playing cricket for so many years, they know how exactly all these situations have been,” explained Hardik Pandya at the post-match presentation.
Hardik, who struggled in the first two matches, played a blazing innings of an unbeaten 70 runs off 52 balls in the series decider. He credited Virat Kohli for providing his valuable input during a “wonderful” chat before the match.
The stand-in Indian skipper expressed how crucial it is for him to get into rhythm during an innings and credited Kohli’s advice for helping him achieve that. Hardik has always been known for his aggressive batting style, and once he finds his rhythm, he becomes a different player. India faced the risk of losing their first series in the Caribbean in 17 years after losing the second ODI. However, an all-round team effort ensured a dominant victory for the visitors in the series decider.
“As a captain, I look forward to these kinds of games where something is on the line and not just an international game. We knew that if we failed, there would be some disappointment,” stated Hardik Pandya.
He emphasized the importance of enjoying the pressure situations and praised the team’s character and ability to absorb pressure while performing well. India’s imposing total of 351/5 in the final ODI, backed by strong performances from Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan, and Sanju Samson, made the chase impossible for West Indies.
Hardik Pandya lauded the bowlers for their disciplined performance and mentioned that the game was effectively over during the powerplay when India’s seamers struck early blows and put West Indies on the back foot.