Sydney [Australia], December 6 (ANI): After registering a thrilling six-wicket win over Australia in the second T20I of the three-match series, Hardik Pandya on Sunday said that he thought T Natarajan would be given the Man of the Match award instead of himself.
Pandya and Shreyas Iyer chased down 37 runs from the final three overs as India defeated Australia by six wickets in the second T20I of the three-match series on Sunday at the Sydney Cricket Ground. With this win, India gained an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli also got among the runs as India chased down the total of 195 with six wickets in hand and two balls to spare.
Batting first, Australia once again piled on the misery on Indian bowlers and the side posted a total of 194 owing to knocks of 58 and 46 from Matthew Wade and Steve Smith. No Indian bowler apart from Natarajan (2-20) was able to leave his mark in the match and dropping catches did not help the visitor's cause.
"I actually thought Natarajan would be given the Man of the Match award, but it has become a batsman's game now, our bowlers did concede runs at high rates, but Natarajan managed to put a brake on Australia's batsmen. The 10-15 extra runs that Natarajan did not concede, were the difference according to me. Australia got a good start, and where they ended, I told my teammates that they were 10-15 runs short," said Pandya during the post-match press conference.
"I am so impressed with Natarajan as he likes to keep things simple and I like players who like to keep it simple. If you tell Natarajan that he needs to bowl a yorker, he will bowl a yorker. When you ask him to bowl wider off the stumps, he will do that. It is a learning for people that you will benefit if you keep things simple," he added.
Speaking about his unbeaten knock of 42 runs, Pandya said: "They wanted to hit me on the bigger side, for me it was not about what Australia were trying to do, it was about what I can do, I think I have been in situations where I have felt that I can hit the ball no matter where it is bowled. It is a matter of hitting two big shots and tonight it came right."
"It does not matter to me where I bat, I play according to the situations, I have developed my game in the manner that I can play according to the situation, whatever the team requires me to do, I will do it. With time, you need to keep on improving as a cricketer," he added.
Pandya, who shares the dressing room with Kieron Pollard in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Mumbai Indians, said that the Windies all-rounder will always be his inspiration. The Indian all-rounder also talked about the importance of playing IPL before the series against Australia.
"I have batted in this manner in the past as well, it is just that my performances are getting highlighted now, we have always been top-heavy and the top three score runs most of the time, I think this is the first time where we have got the opportunity to step it up and do it, I think I am in a very good zone and I am not getting overwhelmed with the situation, it is my job to finish the matches and I did it well tonight. I am not getting too excited about things," said Pandya.
"Pollard has done it many times for his country and franchise, for me, the inspiration will always be him, I have been lucky to see some of his knocks in the past. We have all played cricket in the IPL, in franchise cricket we need to step it up as it is a professional sport, in international cricket, the love for cricket comes and you do feel pressure in international cricket. People have carried the confidence from IPL, I was batting well in the IPL and during the lockdown, I planned on how to finish the matches," he added.
India and Australia will next lock horns in the third T20I of the three-match series on Tuesday at the Sydney Cricket Ground. (ANI)