Mumbai : Hardik Pandya’s breathtaking all-round performance that set up Mumbai Indians’ 37-run win against defending champions Chennai Super Kings in an IPL game here has earned fulsome praise from rival team’s head coach Stephen Fleming.
Pandya smashed an unbeaten 25 from just eight balls and in the company of big-hitting West Indian Kieron Pollard (17 not out from 7 balls) went for an all-out assault on the CSK bowling attack to help MI post 170 for 5 after struggling at 57 for 3 at halfway stage at the Wankhede Stadium.
Pandya hit three sixes and one four in his unbeaten blitzkrieg and later picked up three wickets for 20 runs, including that of rival team skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, to help MI halt CSK at 133 for 8 and hand them their first defeat of the season.
“I am a massive fan (of Pandya), I think he is a wonderful player. His confidence is up, looks like he has a good thing going with what he is doing at the death. Plans should be now for teams to combat that. We were happy with what we were trying to do but executed it poorly,” said Fleming at the post-match media conference .
“He is a quality player. I think he is one of Mumbai’s key weapons and one of India’s key players going forward. If you keep him out of the game you often go on to win. But today with both bat and ball he was excellent,” said the former New Zealand captain.
“Over the last 5-6 overs we came a little bit unstuck. We had an extra seamer. In the last three or four overs, the game got away from us. We had been keeping things simple but today it got a bit complicated. It was a tough ask,” he said.
“In bowling, we were tight for the first 2/3rds but not in the last 1/3rd. A score of 150 would have been par for the course.”
He agreed that a Twenty20 game should not extend for four hours as it did.
“I think it is going to call for a collective effort to speed up things. Moisture (because of dew) plays its part. Wiping the ball is a consideration. Cricket in general is played at a pace below what it needs to be. Cricket needs to be speeded up in all forms of the game. If it puts pressure on captains and bowlers, so be it. We need to ask captains and bowlers to be a little bit surer in their plans.”