After enduring a rather rough year, where they were knocked out of Asia Cup and the T20 World Cup, India return to T20I action with the three-match series against Sri Lanka. With Rohit Sharma not available for the series, Hardik Pandya will return as the skipper of the Men in Blue, with an eye on completing his third series win as a captain.
But from a broader perspective, Hardik insisted that his new year resolution is to win the 50-over competition for the country.
“Obviously, one year back, things were quite different. It was my call to go out and get better and it has been a magical year for me. Obviously, we would have liked to win the T20 World Cup but that is part and parcel. It did not happen and that’s alright,” Pandya said in the pre-match press conference.
“The New Year's resolution is to win the World Cup. I don’t think there can be any bigger resolution than that. Our aim will be to win the World Cup and we will try to do that. We will go out there and give everything and things are looking bright," said Hardik.
India are without some big names but Hardik insisted that this series is an opportunity for the young talents to prove a point. The all-rounder revealed that Umran Malik will get his fair share of chances through the home season.
"Obviously, he (Umran) has pace. Everyone knows how exciting a prospect he is. We will give him enough opportunities. We will give him enough backing. We will give him enough support from our side that he can flourish," said Pandya.
Wise and experienced Hardik awaits the Sri Lankan challenge
Hardik now has the experience of winning an IPL as a captain, with the Gujarat Titans. And the all-rounder expressed that he will definitely instill the faith in the group picked, and added that he will back them till hilt through the home season.
"What we have noticed and what we have told the boys is that, just go out there and express, which they will do. It's up to us how we back them. What we have said is that we are going to back you to the core. All the players have that support my side. I'm going to back them to the core. Who are here are the best cricketers in the country. That's the reason why they're here. So, I have to make them believe that, which is the fact as well. For me, it is important that how I can make them feel that they're the best of their business.”
"If I can get that thing done, I can get that confidence in them, then I don't think they will have any problem in international cricket. I think they will flourish and will have amazing careers as well," said Pandya.
The all-rounder also expressed that it is ‘rather unfortunate’ for the team to not have Rishabh Pant available under such circumstances. However, Hardik was quick in pointing out that the situation demands for the left-hander to be left alone.
“What happened is very unfortunate. As a team we wish him all the best. Our love and prayers are always with him and we hope he manages a speedy recovery. He was very important but everyone knows where the situation stands,” said Pandya
On the opposition, Hardik was clear as crystal stating that India will bring their 'A' game in the three-match series and will make sure that the visitors, Sri Lanka will feel intimidated by the challenge of facing them.
"We want to play good cricket. Yes, we will make them feel like we're in India, don't worry about that, I assure and promise you they will feel that they're playing an international team and that too India in India. So from my boys and my side, we're going to be clear. We don't need to go and sledge them, our body language is enough for them to feel a little intimidated which we will do, I promise you."
The opening fixture of the three-match T20I series is on Tuesday (January 3) at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.