Hindustan Times, New Delhi

India’s captain Virat Kohli, third right, hugs teammate Hardik Pandya to celebrate their win in the second T20 international cricket match between Australia and India at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020)(AP)



The limelight maybe firmly on him for steering India to victory with two sixes in the last over of the 2nd T20I against Australia at the SCG but Hardik Pandya believes the Player of the Match should have gone young left-arm pacer T Natarajan for his exploits with the ball on a placid batting track.

Pandya, who was awarded the Man of the Match award for his unbeaten 42 off 22 balls that helped India chase down 195 to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match T20I series, said he thought it would be Natarajan who would get the Man of the Match award.

“Special mention to Natarajan as well. I thought he should be the Man of the Match, because the bowlers struggled here and he had a really good game.

“He gave us a target about 10 or 15 runs lower than what it would have been. He keeps it simple and I prefer people who don’t complicate things,” Pandya said.

Also Read | ‘The find for India in this tour’: McGrath heaps praise on youngster

Natarajan, who made his ODI and T20I debuts in this Australia tour, was the pick of the bowlers on Sunday, giving away only 20 runs and picking up 2 wickets in his full quota of four overs.

The 29-year-old broke into the Indian side on the back of some superb performances for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2020.

He is not in India’s Test squad for the upcoming series against Australia but fresh from his white-ball heroics, all-rounder Hardik Pandya on Sunday said he wouldn’t mind staying back if the team management wants.

Coming back from a back surgery, Pandya, who is yet to start bowling on a regular basis, shone bright with the bat in the limited overs matches against Australia, helping the visitors claim the T20 series after two big losses in the preceding ODI rubber.

Pandya meanwhile added that he had worked on gaining mastery over “finishing games when it mattered the most” during the coronavirus-forced lockdown.

“During lockdown I wanted to focus on finishing games where it matters the most. It doesn’t matter whether I score or don’t score more runs,” Pandya said at the post-match press conference. The all-rounder was not new to the kind of situation he faced with at the SCG on Sunday, having won some and lost a few in the past.

“I have been in these situations many times and I learnt from my mistakes in the past. My game is always around the confidence which I carry, it has that fine line where I back myself and not become overconfident.

“I always remember all those times when we chased big totals and it helps,” said the man who is a pretty good zone” at the moment and playing according to the situation instead of getting too excited.

Pandya hit debutant pacer Daniel Sams for two sixes — one over long on and one over midwicket — to seal the game in India’s favour with two balls to spare.

“It was not about what they are doing, it was about what I can do. It’s a matter of two big shots and today it came off. I always back myself. It’s the situation I have always played. Whatever the team requires I always try to do.

“It’s very simple. I like to look at scoreboard and play so that I know which bowlers to target.”

(With PTI inputs)

Get Latest Cricket Updates, Live scores and Top news on HT Cricket.