The record at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium favors the chasing teams, who had won 24 of the 41 T20Is played in the last two years before Tuesday’s game. It was therefore understandable that Dasun Shanaka won the toss and elected to field.
Hardik, who is leading India in Rohit Sharma’s absence, was fine with it. He said during the toss, ‘To be honest, we were going to bat first.’ “It’s a chasing ground, but I wanted our team to be challenged. In bilateral matches, we want to put ourselves in tougher situations than this.” [we] usually [do], So I am happy to bat because if we had won the toss, we would have batted first anyway.”
Then, with Sri Lanka needing 163 runs to win in the final over, Hardik gave the ball to Axar Patel when he himself had an over to spare. Chamika Karunaratne hit Akshar’s third ball for a six and brought the equation down from three to five, but Akshar showed courage and did the job for India.
At the post-match presentation, Hardik was asked why he took the gamble. One of the reasons behind this could also be that Hardik was struggling with cramps, but he again talked about challenging the players by creating difficult situations.
“How I’m looking at all these games, I want to put the team in tough situations because it’s going to help us in the big games,” he said. “Bilateral is something we’re very good at, but that’s how we’re going to keep challenging ourselves. Yes, we might lose a game here and there, which is okay, I’m okay with that, because in the long term, It will help us be ready for the big matches when the opportunity arises.”
Earlier, with India defending 162 all out, Hardik had set the tone with the ball, dispatching three overs in the powerplay for just 12 runs. He not only got the ball to go away from the right-handed batsmen but also got it to swing back, which was something new.
“Ever since I have come back in the IPL (2022), I am bowling in the nets and I am bowling with the new ball,” he said. “I have worked on my swing bowling and [the inswinger] It is a new ball that I have learnt.
“I like bowling with the new ball because it allows me to swing the ball and challenge the batsman. In addition, if I can get a wicket here and there, it allows me to use other deliveries. ” [seam] bowler later in the innings.”
It is not known – although there has been some debate around it – if Hardik will continue as India’s T20I captain when Rohit Sharma returns. Nevertheless, he was asked whether he is used to being addressed as India’s captain. “Now, yes, definitely,” he said with a smile.
Hemant Brar is the Deputy Editor at ESPNcricinfo