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Hardik Pandya Defends Axar Patel’s Final Over Strategy: ‘I Wanted to Test the Team’s Resilience’

On Tuesday, January 3, a sold-out Wankhede Stadium saw an exciting T20I series opener between India and Sri Lanka. In a see-saw duel that might have gone any way, the hosts finally triumphed by two runs. Hardik Pandya, India’s stand-in captain, described his perplexing choice to give Axar Patel the last over in a tight climax.

When Hardik Pandya gave left-arm spinner Axar Patel the last over of the match, with the visitors needing 13 runs to win the series opener, he surprised both fans and pundits. Pandya’s odd choice seemed to have backfired as Axar was struck for a maximum on the third ball and gave a wide on the first.

He kept his nerve when Sri Lanka needed five runs off three deliveries, giving the home team a two-run win. The Indian captain justified his choice to bowl Axar in the last over despite having one over left in his own quota.

“I want to put this squad in tough positions so that we can win important games” (on Axar bowling the last over). We are quite excellent at bilaterals, and this is how we will test ourselves. To be honest, it was all the young guns that pulled us out of this mess today. “It was a really straightforward talk,” he told the broadcasters.

The mercurial all-rounder lauded debutant Shivam Mavi, who took four wickets in a brilliant game for the Men in Blue at the Wankhede. Pandya was also brilliant with the new ball, getting it to bounce about a lot to worry the Lankan hitters.

“I have watched him (Mavi) bowl effectively in the IPL and I know what are his skills, so back yourself and don’t worry about being hit. If the same circumstance exists, then yes, I have worked on my swing bowling and that (inswinger), I am bowling in nets, and I like bowling with the new ball,” he said.