I can now throw four overs as a third or fourth closer, says Hardik Pandya

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Hardik Pandya has stated that he can now bowl four overs at T20I as the “third or fourth closer” rather than just playing a part-time role on the ball. The all-rounder has shipped 26 overs in ten T20I innings since his return to the India team in June, and was the cheapest bowler in the third T20I against the West Indies at St Kitts on Tuesday, conceding just 19 runs in four overs for the wicket of the Brandon King starter. Pandya made a big change from the 2021 T20 World Cup, in which he bowled just four overs in five games and played almost like a specialist batsman.

“I always liked bowling when I was bowling. That was the reason why I felt like I should take some time off to get my bowling in. I realized that when I bowl it gives a lot of balance to the sides, it gives a lot of confidence to the captain”, Hardik Pandya. he said after India’s seven-wicket victory at Warner Park in Basseterre.

“I used to bowl as a filler before, in the middle if someone wasn’t bowling, now I can probably say I can bowl four overs as a third or fourth closer where I can contribute the same way I do with my bat.” .

Pandya’s return to bowling had started in the 2022 Indian Premier League, when he bowled 30.3 overs in ten innings at an economic rate of 7.27 for the Gujarat Titans. He said that he had been working on adding more options to his bowling game after being hit several times.

“In bowling, it took me a while to understand my strengths and weaknesses. In T20 I got hit a couple of times. But this sport is about that. If someone hits you and you’re strong enough, chances are you’ll learn something. For me, it was about how I could keep the batsman from hitting me, and I was able to add more variation to my bowling game and now I think it’s coming off pretty well.”

With the bat, Pandya is averaging 31.62 and hitting 136.75 in 11 innings since his return to India. He said he wasn’t looking to hit in a particular way, but to adapt to the situation he finds himself in. And if that needed to be defended for a while, India’s vice-captain for the West Indies T20I series was prepared to do so, as he had leeway from team management.

“The coach and the captain have given me the freedom to hit how I want. That gives you a boost if your coach and captain show that much faith in you.

“Very privileged to be the vice-captain… I have always enjoyed the responsibility and it has added more and more to my game because it makes me think more, and when I think more it adds more value to my cricket.”