Four years after Hardik Pandya defended 2 runs off the final 3 balls against Bangladesh – all three of them resulted in wickets, the last one being a run out – to take India to the semi-final of T20 World Cup with a 1-run win, the all-rounder has revealed his chat with then captain MS Dhoni and former India pacer Ashish Nehra in between deliveries.
Aside from Carlos Brathwaite's four sixes off Ben Stokes in the last over of the final, Hardik Pandya's heroics in India's dramatic win from the jaws of defeat in the Super 10 league match against Bangladesh is one of the most talked-about moments of the T20 World Cup 2016 held in India. Four years after Pandya defended 2 runs off the final 3 balls – all three of them resulted in wickets, the last one being a run out – to take India to the semi-final of T20 World Cup with a 1-run win, the all-rounder has revealed his chat with then captain MS Dhoni and former India pacer Ashish Nehra in between deliveries.
On a slightly unusual Chinnaswamy track in Bengaluru, which is known for producing belters, India were up with the task of defending 146 against Bangladesh for a place in the semi-final.
After a see-saw battle for 39 overs – including both the innings – it all came down to 11 runs off the final over. Dhoni, in a perhaps repeat of his move in the final of T20 World Cup 2007, pulled a surprise by throwing the ball to Pandya, who was playing his first major tournament.
After Mahmuddullah took a single off the first ball, Mushfiqur hit Pandya for back-to-back fours, the second one followed by loud roars, fist-pumps in a victory-like celebration from the Bangladesh 'keeper. After all, he had brought down the equation to two runs off three balls, which should be a cakewalk for any international side. But the drama had just begun.
While Pandya was walking back to his mark, Dhoni called him up and had a word. Senior-pro Ashish Nehra also joined in. Without going into exact details of the conversation, Pandya said, the plan was to bowl back of a length to Mushfiqur. And it worked, as the right-hander mistimed a pull shot to hit straight to the deep square-leg fielder.
"Even at that time if I was there (in Mushfiqur's place) I would've taken a single to secure the win and then go for that signature shot or highlight shot. So I was like what was the most difficult ball if anyone wants to take a single?" Pandya said in a Cricbuzz video, recalling the moment.
"I thought back of length is something if you wanna hit it's not that easy and even if you wanna take single it's difficult, you have to get around and play it properly. But he went for the big shot and got out," Pandya added.
Another conference between Dhoni, Pandya, Nehra took place after Mushfiqur walked back and Bangladesh needed two runs off the final two balls – still an easy equation.
Mahmudullah could not connect the low full toss as well as he would have liked and Jadeja at deep square-leg took a fine catch to bring India right back in the contest.
"The next ball I went for the Yorker, it turned out to be a full toss. It was just destiny, it happened because it had to happen, I didn't do anything special there," said Pandya.
The all-rounder revealed that when it came down two runs off the final ball, he was given the advice of bowling a bouncer but it was Dhoni and Nehra who told him to go wide of the off-stump as a top edge off a bouncer can easily fly over the keeper's head.
"I don't remember exactly but few people gave suggestions 'let's bowl a bouncer' but we were not up for it because Mahi bhai and Ashu bhai also said that if a tail-ender tries to swing and gets a top edge then it could fly over the keeper. So he said let's just go with wide outside off stump," Pandya recalled.
Pandya fiddled with the wide line but did enough to miss the swinging bat of Shuvagata Hom. Non-striker Mustafizur Rahman tied to scamper through for a bye but Dhoni was up to the mark behind the stumps as he ran quickly after gathering the ball broke the stumps down before Rahman could reach home to seal India's win
"I bowled it a bit too wide. After that I lost my voice," said Pandya.
India, however, were knocked out by the eventual champions West Indies in the semi-final of the tournament.