India’s chief coach Ravi Shastri, whose decision to elevate Hardik Pandya to number four in the batting order proved to be a master-stroke, reckons that the Baroda all-rounder has the ability to clear any ground in the world with his power-packed strokes. It was on Shastri’s insistence that Pandya was promoted at No 4 in the third ODI in Indore, where he scored 78 in a winning cause. In the next game, he scored 41 albeit in a losing cause. Asked about the inspirational move, Shastri said:”He (Hardik) is a dangerous guy. He can be a floater in the batting order — tremendous striker of the ball, especially when he hits spinners. I have not seen too many players strike against spinners like that. Yuvraj Singh in his hey days may be. This guy can clear any ground in the world, be it second ball, third ball. It’s the exuberance of youth.”
Having not let the foot off the pedal, Shastri said key to success is being relentless. “If you have got to be a good team, you have to be relentless. You have got to repeat what you did on Tuesday on Friday, and then on Sunday, and then on Tuesday again,” said Shastri. The coach termed the chase of 243 as the best of the series considering it was a difficult Nagpur track.
“We saved best batting for the last. It wasn’t an easy track to bat on and the ‘hitman’ (Rohit’s nickname in the Indian dressing room) made it look so easy. It was a treat to the eye. The way the guys showed character once again when Australia were 60 for no loss. We were staring at 275-280 but all the bowlers chipped in and got team right back in the match.” Shastri said that the Nagpur track forced the team management to bring back Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.
“They (Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah) have tremendous, skills. That’s why we brought both of them back in the side. When we saw the track, it demanded skills. It’s a big ground and you might go for runs with new ball. “But when you have bowlers like them, they can bring you back in the game. They complement each other, they have got varieties galore and their actions are different and vastly experienced.”
The coach observed that there’s still some room for improvement in the side especially in the fielding department while he would ideally like any top order player, who has settled down, go on to make a big score. “We have to raise the bar in fielding. We need to seize the initiative in an even bigger way in certain situations. One player when he gets into 60’s and 70’s, should convert and that’s what Rohit did today,” he concluded.