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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Bhuvneshwar hopes Hardik carries current form in T20 World Cup

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The high-voltage Asia Cup clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan stood up to its reputation, with the former sealing a last-over victory by five wickets in front of a packed stadium in Dubai, on Sunday night.

From one match-winner to another, a star with the ball in last night’s blockbuster clash, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, credited Hardik Pandya’s late blitz that guided India to a sensational win.

The pace sensation returned terrific figures of 4/26 from his four overs including the crucial wicket of Pakistan captain Babar Azam while Pandya registered 3/25.

Babar’s men had set a target of 148. Both teams were well and truly in the game till the end, but it was the fifth-wicket partnership of 52 runs between Ravindra Jadeja (35 off 29) and Pandya (33* not out off 17) that swung the game India’s way toward the end.

“After the 10 overs of our innings, it was a tight match,” said Bhuvneshwar in the post-match press conference.

“In those situations, the game can go either way. But the way Hardik and Jadeja batted, they played very well. But honestly, the match was 50-50. Till the time Hardik scored runs, the match was 50-50. We were praying that Hardik scores runs,” he added.

It’s been Pandya’s year, especially in the T20 format, having won the 2022 IPL title as Gujarat Titans’ captain on the back of some exceptional individual performances.

Bhuvneshwar expressed he would want to see the all-rounder continue his rich vein of form in the upcoming showcase event in Australia come October-November.

“I can just pray that Hardik continues with his performances and he stays in this form in the World Cup as well,” Bhuvneshwar said.

One of Bhuvneshwar’s victims last night was the No.1-ranked batter on the ICC Men’s T20I Rankings: Babar Azam. On being asked about the feeling of getting a prized scalp of the Pakistan skipper early on in the third over, the India pacer admitted that his side was yet to seize control of

the opposition’s batting line-up.

“Once Babar was dismissed, we did not think that half of the Pakistan team has been dismissed,” Bhuvneshwar said. “He is a good player but technically there were nine other batters still left.

“As a team, we do not think that if the best batter is out, then half of the team is dismissed. But yes, once he was out, we knew their plans will be disturbed as the batter who plays the role of the anchor was gone,” he added.

India’s next Asia Cup encounter is against Hong Kong on August 31. They are likely to face Pakistan in a Super Four clash next Sunday, should both teams finish as top two in their Group A standings.

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