That's my responsibility: Hardik Pandya on playing Dhoni's role for India
Star India all-rounder Hardik Pandya feels he has developed the ability to absorb pressure and doesn’t mind playing the anchoring role that the great Mahendra Singh Dhoni played for the team.
The 29-year-old has always been known for his batting pyrotechnics but says he has now learnt to take the back seat and anchor the innings, something which master chaser Dhoni did in the fag end of his international career.
“See, to be honest, I’ve always enjoyed hitting sixes, but I have to evolve and that is life,” the stand-in T20 skipper said during the press conference after India sealed the T20 series against New Zealand 2-1.
“I have to take the other part where I’ve always believed in partnerships. I want to give my team and the other person more calmness and the assurance that at least I’m there.
“I’ve played more games than any of those guys out there. So, I’ve known the experience and more than the experience part, it’s where I’ve batted, and I’ve learnt how to accept pressure and I’ve learnt how to kind of swallow the pressure and kind of make sure the team and everything is calm,” Hardik added.
Dhoni is known for his calm demeanour and Hardik feels now it is his responsibility to step into the legendary wicketkeeper’s shoes as a batter and he is ready to sacrifice his strike-rate to play that role.
“In that way, maybe I have to get my strike rate down or… Taking new opportunities or taking new roles is (something) I’ve always looked forward to. I don’t mind coming in and playing the role which somewhere down the line Maahi (Dhoni) used to play,” he said.
Hardik has scored 1271 runs at a strike-rate of 142.17 in 87 T20Is.
“I think at that time, I was young, and I was hitting all around the park, but now since he has gone, all of a sudden that responsibility… It has just naturally come to me, and I don’t mind (doing it). We’re getting the result we want and it’s okay.” During the third T20I against New Zealand, Hardik did just that, allowing the in-form Shubman Gill (126) to take the attack to the opposition as India posted a massive 234 for 4 and then bowled out NZ for 66 for a 168-run win.