Ever since his international debut in 2016, star India all-rounder Hardik Pandya has proved to be vital in India’s national team setup. The extraordinary thing that Pandya brings to the side is a much-needed balance, which allows India to go for an extra bowler, irrespective of the formats.
So far, Pandya has played 11 Tests in which he has scored 532 runs and taken 17 wickets. Whereas, in 54 One-Day Internationals (ODIs), Pandya has added 957 runs and 54 wickets in his account. He has also featured in 40 T20 Internationals (T20Is), where the 26-year-old has smashed 310 runs and bagged 38 wickets.
Pandya has given so many memories to Indian fans, but his heroics in India’s dramatic win from the jaws of defeat against Bangladesh in the 2016 T20 World Cup still remains one of the most talked-about moments in Indian cricket.
Recently in an exclusive interview with veteran commentator Harsha Bhogle on Cricbuzz, Pandya reminisced the story of 2016 T20 World Cup when he bowled the famous last over in a nail-biting contest. Harsha asked Pandya to explain the situation after his first three balls during that over went for nine runs, and Bangladesh just needed two more to win.
In the last over, after Mahmuddullah took a single off the first ball, Mushfiqur had smashed Pandya for back-to-back fours. The wicket-keeper batsman then showed fist-pumps in a victory-like celebration.
But Pandya had the last laugh by bowling a back of length delivery to Mushfiqur as advised by MS Dhoni and Ashish Nehra. It worked like magic, and Mushfiqur mistimed a pull shot which went straight to the deep square-leg fielder.
“I’ll be honest; I didn’t think that what happened was possible. If I was in Mushfiqur’s place, I would have taken a single and secured a win. After the first three balls, I thought what is the most difficult ball if someone wants to take a single?” described Pandya.
“So I believed the back of length is something where hitting is difficult and if you want to single then also it isn’t that easy as one has to play a proper cricketing shot, but he (Mushfiqur) went for a big shot and got out,” he added.
The next ball that Hardik bowled was actually a full-toss, but Mahmadullah in an attempt to go for a glory shot found the fielder and got out. Describing the dismissal, Hardik opined that it was destined to happen and he was lucky.
“It was in destiny; it was supposed to happen. I didn’t do anything special there, I was lucky, and it happened,” the Baroda cricketer added further.
The all-rounder also revealed that when it came down two runs off the final ball, he was given the advice of bowling a bouncer, but it was Dhoni and Nehra who told him to go wide of the off-stump as a top edge off a bouncer can quickly fly over the keeper’s head.
“Few people gave suggestions like bowling a bouncer, but then we were not up for it because Ashu pa (Ashish Nehra) and Mahi bhai (Dhoni) said that if a tailender try to swing it and the ball gets a top edge so it might go over the keeper, so Mahi bhai said to go for the back of a length delivery outside off stump,” concluded Pandya.
Coming back to the scenario, Bangladesh just needed two runs to win, and as explained by Pandya he yet again bowled a wide delivery which the batsman missed. Then, India wicket-keeper Dhoni ran out Mustafizur Rahman to give India a memorable win.