India recorded an emphatic 91-run win against Sri Lanka in the series decider at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot to take the three-match series 2-1. After opting to bat first, the home team were propelled to 228 for the loss of five wickets courtesy of a record-breaking ton from Suryakumar Yadav.
In the post-match press conference, Hardik Pandya was in awe of the batter and said, "Today it felt like Sri Lanka against Surya. It makes my life very easy, and that is the reason I have always mentioned that someone like Surya is so important to us in white-ball cricket. The way he changes the game and the way he plays some shots, it actually breaks the morale of the bowler, which helps the other batters as well."
"We all know what Surya did but special mention to Rahul Tripathi as well for the kind of intent he showed. That is something which is so natural to him, and it can change the game and the momentum. It was as if Sri Lanka were chasing the game," he further added.
The Indian skipper also credited the batters for showing the right intent and aggressive mindset to derail the bowling plans of the opposition and said, "A wicket like this doesn't change much; it was suiting batsmen once the ball got old. Intent and aggression are more important on a tricky wicket."
"If you can do the same thing on a tricky wicket, the bowler might feel he has to try something else. Whereas if you play normally, he might just come and bowl normally. If we show intent, it makes a difference of ten runs, and at the end of the day, those ten runs make a big difference if you see overall in the game," he further added.
After leading the Gujarat Titans to a win in the inaugural edition of the Indian Premier League, Hardik's captaincy has evolved by leaps and bounds, and he credits this success to Ashish Nehra, the head coach of the Titans.
"I had never led in junior cricket. When I was in the Under-16s, I led Baroda. After that, everyone felt I should focus on my cricket, and since then, I have not led," he said.
"What has been very important from Gujarat's point of view is the kind of coach I worked with. Ashish Nehra made a big difference in my life. We might be two different personalities, but when it comes to cricket, we are very similar."
"When I was with him, it added more value to my captaincy. It was about getting that assurance and the kind of backing that I always knew already, so it has definitely helped me," he concluded.