All-rounder Hardik Pandya, in a candid chat with Virat Kohli, revealed that he would have taken a bullet for him during their 113-run partnership for the fifth wicket, which switched the momentum toward India in their four-wicket win over Pakistan in T20 World Cup opener at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday.
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“I would have taken a bullet for you at that point of time, but I would not have let you get out. My goal was simple, and whatever I can do to make your life easier, I’ll do it. You have done it so many times and no one is better at handling pressure than you,” Pandya told Kohli in a video posted on the website of BCCI.
If Virat Kohli (82 not out) stole the limelight with his incredible knock in India’s four-wicket win over Pakistan in their T20 World Cup opener, star all-rounder Hardik (40) was the perfect ally as the team recovered from a woeful start to emerge victorious.
Pandya joined Kohli when India were left in tatters at 31 for 4. Hardik struck 40 off 37 balls in a partnership of 113 for the fifth wicket.
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Hardik heaped praise on Kohli about the back-to-back sixes he smashed in Haris Rauf’s over.
“Those two shots played by Virat Kohli, just because I know how important those two shots were, if you had missed even shot, still they were running ahead with the game,” said Pandya.
I have hit a lot of sixes, but those two sixes were really really special. What it meant for both of us, we actually were so pumped. Those two shots, I told him that I have played so much cricket but I do not think anyone could have played those two shots except Mr. Kohli,” he added.
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While the all-rounder was not at his aggressive best, Hardik, who also picked up three wickets with the ball in a fine spell earlier in the day, did play an important role in helping Kohli to play his natural game at the other end.
“Yeah, the best part of today was that we struggled, but we did it together. This would not have been this special if we would have just walked, just cruised through hitting exceptional shots. It feels more special because we struggled. We were talking to each other on how difficult it was. Credit to Pakistan as well, they bowled really well. They were fantastic,” said Pandya on their partnership.
Kohli, who in the post-match presentation, had said that it was Pandya who told him to keep going and keep believing. Recalling that Pandya played a crucial hand in calming him down during a critical point of the run chase, Kohli said: Hardik was very fearless in that partnership, when he came onto bat, he immediately told me, ”Let’s talk, let’s communicate and we will bat deep by building a partnership, anything can happen’. He really kept me focused at that point, because I was looking to hit a few big shots, which could have been risky because we had already lost four wickets by that time.”
About the emotions in dressing room, Pandya said it was quite tensed when he was walking out to bat.
“I sensed a lot of pressure in our room, I could sense it. It was a big game, but for me, I do not know, for some odd reason, I was very numb today when I came to the ground. This is where I wanted to be and I am just happy to be here. The quality of relationship which I have in this group is something I cherish,” he recalled.