Hardik Pandya’s unbeaten 71 from 30 deliveries powered India to its highest T20I total (208/6) against Australia in the first T20I in Mohali on Tuesday.
Hardik once again proved why he, alongside Suryakumar Yadav, will be India’s X-factor batters at the T20 World Cup next month.
India lost Rohit Sharma (11) and Virat Kohli (2) within the PowerPlay before KL Rahul’s 35-ball 55 rebuilt the innings alongside Suryakumar’s whirlwind 25-ball 46. Rahul’s dismissal brought Hardik to the crease in the 12th over at 103 for three
Hardik sped off the blocks with a six off Cameron Green before Suryakumar’s untimely dismissal. Hardik, however, continued his onslaught over the seam trio of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Ellis and reached his second T20I fifty in just 25 balls.
Hardik displayed incredible six-hitting and finishing prowess in the final over when he applied pressure on Green who was just playing his second T20I. He smashed three consecutive sixes - over long-off, deep mid-wicket and third-man - to add the finishing touches to the innings while securing his best T20I score.
In 17 T20Is this year, Hardik has racked up over 400 runs at a strike-rate of 152.85 - only bettered by Suryakumar (182.44) among Indians and the fourth overall in the world (min. 15 innings).
Hardik becomes even more dangerous and integral for India in the death overs while Suryakumar aces the middle overs. In the last-four in 2022, Hardik has amassed 188 runs at a strike rate of 204.34 - the second-best in the world behind Sri Lanka’s Dasun Shanaka (212.96).
Meanwhile, Suryakumar leads the batting charts in overs 7-16 with a staggering 175.36 strike rate and 40-plus average. Suryakumar’s impressive run has also seen him record the highest T20I strike rate among all batters from Test-playing nations (172.92).
With the raging ‘strike-rate’ debate hovering over the top-order, it is invariably evident that India’s success at the T20 World Cup will depend on how well Hardik and Suryakumar complement Rohit, Rahul and Kohli.
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