The stump mic captured certain instructions Hardik Pandya had for Tilak Varma, following which the India captain hit the six that won the match for India.
Very rarely does a player cop criticism for hitting a match-winning six, but in Hardik Pandya’s case, the tables turned last night in Guyana when the India captain deposited his counterpart Rovman Powell into the stands for a gigantic six to give his team a much-needed win. Hardik was shredded on social media, and was blamed for denying a half-century to younger pro Tilak Varma, who was unbeaten on 49 at the other end. It didn’t matter to people that India won the contest by seven wickets to stay alive in the series. All users cared about was how Hardik is ‘nowhere close’ to MS Dhoni, who years ago had allowed Virat Kohli to score the winning runs in a T20 World Cup match against South Africa.
As Hardik continues to receive flak, the stump mic recorded an interesting chat between Tilak and his captain has emerged where Pandya could be heard telling Varma to finish the game. Tilak was batting on 44 off 32 balls and India needed 12 off 23 when Hardik said: “Tereko especially khatam karna hai, rukna hai. Gendo ka fark padta hai (You have to stay there and finish the game. The number of balls faced makes a difference.”
It is evident that Hardik wanted Tilak to hit the winning runs, but probably had to sidetrack from his promise after the left-handed batter scored five runs off the next five balls. Hardik himself was batting on 12 off 12 and with the slower-ball right in his slot, Pandya swung for the fences and sent the ball flying way over long on.
Tilak’s unprecedented rise
In just three matches, Tilak Varma has become a fan favourite, to an extent that many are backing the 21-year-old youngster to be part of India’s ODI World Cup squad. With Team India’s middle-order becoming a round of musical chairs lately with toss ups between numerous candidates for several slots, the belief is that Tilak could be thrown into the mix. After Deepak Hooda, Tilak is second in the list of Indian batters with most runs after first three T20Is with 139 runs.
Tilak shone when even the more established Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik could not get going. In the first two T20Is, Tilak combined to score 90, including a half-century in the second game, whereas the aforementioned names combined for 108 runs. Clearly, as the numbers prove, Tilak is batting on another level of comfort. A left-hander who is in-form, fearless, can attack and defend with equal ease, gets going straightaway. Will the selectors stick their neck out and pick him?