India having already sealed the series went into the 3rd T20 game with a certain spring in their step. But Australian bowlers held their nerve against Virat Kohli, and managed to win the game to stop an Indian clean-sweep with a 12-run victory in the third and final T20 International. One should not forget Hardik Pandya contribution.
Australia and India played six white ball games. Australia won the ODI series 2-1 while India won the T20 series again 2-1. Hardik Pandya was Player of the T20 Series. Tuesday’s loss ended India’s 10-match winning streak in the T20 format.
Despite Kohli smashing 85 off 61 balls, India could only manage 174/7 falling 13 runs short of their victory target of 187.
Now it is all focused on the 4 Test match series between the two teams staring in Adelaide on December 17 with the first test match under lights. Kohli is already in the test mode. He minced no words telling Hardik Pandya will have to start bowling and become an established all-rounder to have a place in the Test series. So far, Hardik’s scintillating batting in the white ball series has painted him to be a dominating and overwhelming “finisher”.
Hardik who scored 90 and 92 in the first and third ODIs and topping up with a match-winning knock of 42 not out in 22 balls in the second T20I, winning the T20 series for India, earned him Player of the series award.
Without the bowling option, Kohli is clear.
“Hardik couldn’t bowl and we knew he will not be able to bowl but we saw in the IPL the headspace that he has been. But Test cricket is a different challenge and we need him to bowl,” Kohli said about his priorities.
“We have spoken about it. He is one guy who brings in a lot of balance for us in overseas conditions like South Africa, England. We were able to compete for longer periods of time and he adds a lot of balance in terms of his bowling.”
Pandya seems to be intent to perform in all formats of the game.
“He is definitely in a zone where he wants to perform for India in all three disciplines. That’s always been his ‘X-factor’. In white ball cricket, we found someone who can finish games consistently,” the skipper said.
Kohli knows Hardik understands what he needs to do, get back to peak bowling form.
“He himself wants to get back into the bowling space and make sure he is available in Tests because it becomes way more important for five days, that little bit extra.
“He understands that he has to come back the fittest he is able to,” he added.
Let us see if BCCI elders play upon the skipper’s mindset.