India suffered a rare blip under the captaincy of Hardik Pandya in the first T20I in Ranchi but after getting back to winning ways in Lucknow, they registered yet another bilateral victory as they downed New Zealand in Ahmedabad to pocket the series 2-1. It wasn’t just an ordinary victory: at the Narendra Modi Stadium, the Men in Blue registered their biggest ever victory in T20Is, smashing the Black Caps by 168 runs.
While Shubman Gill’s stunning century contributed to the win, the hosts were equally dominant on the field. And as he’s been doing all summer, skipper Hardik Pandya didn’t put a foot wrong as both captain and bowler.
Every tactical call Pandya made worked and, to go along with that, he proved to be India’s most effective bowler on the night too, as he registered his best ever figures in T20Is, taking 4/16 off 4 overs.
With the victory, Pandya registered his third consecutive series win as captain in the shortest format. When asked to summarize his thought process as skipper, the 29-year-old said the following: ‘If I go down, I will go down on my terms’.
“I try to read what is required, not have preconceived ideas. In my captaincy, I look to keep it simple and back my gut. I have a simple rule - if I go down, I will go down on my terms,” Pandya said in the post-match presentation.
Pandya was named Player of the Series for his all-round efforts — 66 runs and 5 wickets — but the skipper downplayed his influence and credited the support staff for the team’s ruthless showing.
“I don't mind winning (man of the series award), but there were so many performances here that were exceptional. This Man of the Series and trophy goes out to the whole support staff, I'm happy for all of them,” the skipper added.
Not for the first time this year, however, all the limelight was stolen by Shubman Gill. There were questions surrounding Gill’s suitability for the shortest format heading into the contest, but he smashed all doubts by scoring his maiden T20 hundred. At the Narendra Modi Stadium, in a knock that saw him smash 7 sweet sixes, Gill ended up posting the highest ever individual score by an Indian in T20Is.
Gill credited skipper Pandya for backing him.
“It feels good when you practise and it pays off. Happy to get the big ones for the team,” Gill said.
“Hardik bhai told me to bat the way I do, and that there is no need to do anything extra. He kept backing me.”
Now a three-format player, Gill quickly shot down suggestions that playing all three formats could potentially be a tiring prospect.
“When you represent your country, there is no fatigue. It was my dream to play for India, and I am very fortunate to be part of the team in all three formats,” the 23-year-old said.
Gill and India’s next assignment is a four-Test series against Australia, starting February 9th. In the absence of Shreyas Iyer, Gill is expected to play in the middle-order in the first Test in Nagpur.