After a hectic cricketing schedule right till the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, Hardik Pandya was finally given a much-deserved rest from India’s tour of West Indies. The Indian all-rounder, however, was called back to the Indian squad for the recently-concluded home T20 series against South Africa. The Proteas are currently in India for three T20 internationals and three Test matches. The first T20I in Dharamshala ended in a wash-out. However, the Indian team emerged victorious in the second match and took a 1-0 lead in the 3-match series.
Team India, being 1-0 ahead in the series, won the toss in the decider and elected to bat first. Riding on Shikhar Dhawan’s solid 36 off 25 balls, Virat Kohli's men were off to a brisk start, reaching 54-1 at the end of their first powerplay. However, a flurry of wickets later, Hardik arrived at the crease when the Indian team was reeling at 90-4. In no time, the scoreline read 98-6 and Hardik was now joined by another star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja to steady the Indian innings. A couple of lusty hits towards the end by the duo took India’s score to 134-9 in 20 overs. Hardik, not at his destructive best, scored just 14 runs off 18 balls before being caught in the deep by David Miller in the penultimate ball of the innings. The reason behind India's low score was their slow scoring rate at the back-half of their innings. Even cricket expert Harsha Bhogle took to Twitter to express his disappointment about India’s lacklustre show with the bat especially in the death overs when Pandya was at the crease. Bhogle tweeted:
45-5 in the last 9 overs.....— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) September 22, 2019
The Proteas comfortably chased down their target with 19 balls to spare. The visitors only lost one wicket in the process, losing opener Reeza Hendricks in the 11th over of their innings. Hardik was the lone wicket-taker among the Indian bowlers as he dismissed the opening batsman from the first delivery of his two-overs spell. Hardik finished the match with figures of 2-0-23-1.
With South Africa’s nine-wicket win over the hosts, the three-match series ended in a draw. The focus will now shift to Vishakhapatnam for the upcoming Test series between the two nations. The Test series will also launch South Africa’s campaign in the ongoing ICC World Test Championship. The first Test match will begin from October 2, 2019.