posted on 2018-11-04 23:34:50
posted by Sahil Jain
Image Courtesy: BCCI Photo
There has been a lot of noise around Krunal Pandya in recent times. A lot of them have been calling for his inclusion in India’s limited-overs set-ups. With his brother Hardik Pandya out injured and Ravindra Jadeja overlooked for the shortest format of the game, the 27-year-old finally got his chance to make his international debut.
About 45 minutes before the start of the game, Krunal received his maiden international cap from his Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma. In fact, about two and a half years ago, it was Rohit Sharma who presented Krunal Pandya with the Mumbai Indians’ cap when the latter made his IPL debut.
The elder Pandya is one of those many who have made a name through the IPL and then risen through the ranks in domestic cricket and eventually making it to the Indian team.
IPL has put him into the spotlight and in fact, he has relished it as well. He is only one of the five players who have amassed more than 500 runs and picked up 25 wickets. Each all-rounder on that list of five is an international player. Thus, Krunal’s performances have been terrific over the last 2-3 years. He has made the right noises in domestic cricket as well in the last few years. Over the last couple of years, he has been topping the charts for Baroda as far as limited-overs cricket is concerned. Even in the recently concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy, Krunal Pandya was the second highest run-getter for Baroda (274 runs at 45.66) and the highest wicket-taker (11 wickets at 17.54) for them.
Pandya was called up as a replacement for Washington Sundar in England for the T20I series as well. However, with Hardik Pandya giving India that balance, Krunal warmed the benches throughout the series. But in the absence of his brother, Krunal has grabbed his opportunity and has shown the world what he can do.
In his maiden international game, Krunal Pandya was into action straightaway. The second ball of the game and the all-rounder let the ball slips through his hands for four. He then came onto bowl in the 8th over of the game.
A couple of wides and a six. A start similar to his brother Hardik Pandya (who bowled an 11-ball first over on his international debut). 9 runs off the first three balls in international cricket. The elder Pandya just like his brother didn’t have the best of starts.
However, once again like Hardik, he came back strongly in the second over to pick up his first wicket in international cricket. He took the wicket of his Mumbai Indians’ teammate Kieron Pollard who hit him for a six in the previous over.
Firing the ball straight and fast was Krunal’s tactic against Pollard and it worked beautifully. After hitting Krunal for a six, Pollard faced 3 balls from Krunal and couldn’t get it away. Hence, he went for the big shot and holed out.
Krunal was delighted as he blew a flying kiss as Pollard walked past. In the next three overs, the elder Pandya conceded just 5 runs and kept things really tight, applying the pressure on the Windies middle-order. He finished with figures of 1/15 in his four overs with 15 dot balls.
Then came the opportunity with the bat. India were 83/5 and still needed 27 runs in the last overs when Krunal walked in. He played a couple of cheeky shots and put the ball in the gaps as his 9-ball 21 helped India wrap up the chase in the 18th over (he also hit the winning runs).
To play for India is a proud moment and Krunal Pandya would’ve absolutely loved this debut. His all-round ability can open up various options for India, especially with them struggling with a fickle middle-order.
The senior Pandya has had quite a few injuries in the past but he has found ways to come back strongly after being pushed into the dumps. He has an excellent temperament as well and he has proven his mantle time and again in big games in the IPL.
With India having middle-order and sixth bowler issues, Krunal Pandya could be the answer to their woes. When his brother Hardik returns, Pandya might be back on the bench but a strong showing in this series and the one in Australia could well go a long way in launching his international career.