In red-hot form with three fifties in a row for Gujarat Titans, out-of-favour India all-rounder Hardik Pandya on Saturday said his national team comeback is not in his hands and he’s just focused on doing well in the ongoing IPL. The premier all-rounder, who sat out against Chennai Super Kings because of a groin injury, was back with a 49-ball 67 — his third fifty in a row — to lead Gujarat Titans to an eight-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders. The Titans’ third win on the trot consolidated their position on the top of the table.
“I don’t think it’s my (India) comeback anyway and secondly I don’t focus on my comeback. I focus on the game which I play,” Pandya said at the post-match media conference.
The 28-year-old made his last appearance for India against Namibia in the T20 World Cup in Dubai in November last year and then struggled to manage his bowling workload post his back surgery only to return to action in the IPL.
In the ongoing IPL, Pandya is sitting second in the run chart behind leader Jos Buttler with 295 runs from six innings at an average of 73.75.
“At the moment, I am playing IPL and will focus on IPL, then will see where the future takes. It’s never in my hands now. I focus on the team which I’m playing in. We are doing well and I’m very happy,” he added.
Pandya said he’s relishing every bit of his captaincy role for debutants Gujarat Titans.
“Captaincy obviously helps. I’m always a cricketer who loves to take responsibilities. I have a bit of understanding of the game having batted for so many years,” he said.
“You’re successful because you have an understanding of the game. Having played so many matches, I’m able to use my experience. So far, so good,” he added.
The Titans got off to a spectacular start, were 133/2 in 16 overs but they lost wickets in heap in the back-end — four in the final over — to settle for 156/9.
“I feel we were 10-15 runs short, they kind of finished very strong. But with the kind of bowling attack, I backed my chances. The wicket had up and down bounce. The back of the length ball was working pretty nicely,” Pandya added.
For KKR, it was their fourth loss on the trot but head coach Brendon McCullum said they’re confident to make the semi-finals.
“The confidence in the batting unit should stay relatively high. We still believe we’re good enough to be in the semifinals and be the there at the thick end of the competition,” McCullum said.
Chasing 157, KKR were going great guns with Russell on fire and needed 29 runs from the last two overs. But Alzarri Joseph produced a fine final over and dismissed Russell for a 25-ball 48 to derail their chase.
“Our batters have been very good so far. We scored 210-odd in the last game. We have got 170-plus batting first (against Sunrisers Hyderabad), our batters have been predominantly very good,” he said, backing their batters.
“Overall I think we have been batting pretty well. From 34/4 and to be able to rebuild the innings and explode with Russell was pretty good but unfortunately that was not quite enough,” he added.
Dejected at his side’s loss, KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer said: “The way we started in the powerplay while chasing and even with the ball. We shouldn’t have conceded that much in these conditions.” “I think 160-165 was a decent score and we did well to keep them below that. In this format, all matches that are close we need to win those and only then we can climb up the ladder.
“Three out of our last four were very close matches. The energy and vibe is high before the game and it is disappointing that we are unable to convert it,” he added.
Topics mentioned in this article