'If he wants to hit, let him hit me': Hardik's unflinching challenge to West Indies power-hitter after 3rd T20I win
India registered a 7-wicket win in the must-win third T20I, remaining alive in the five-match series against West Indies.
Team India registered a sensational win over West Indies in the third T20I, thus remaining alive in the five-match series on Tuesday. Trailing 0-2, India put out a dominant outing, restricting the hosts to 159/5 in Guyana before chasing the target down with seven wickets remaining. Suryakumar Yadav (83 off 44 balls), who endured a series of low-scores in white-ball leg against the Windies, was the star of the day for India while Tilak Varma (49* off 37 balls) continued on his strong show with the bat.
The Windies had made a cautious start to their innings after opting to bat, and it wasn't until the 11th over when their star hitter Nicholas Pooran took the crease. The hosts had only 75 runs on the board till then, meaning the middle-order had little option but to attack bowlers from ball one. The delayed arrival of Pooran, however, aided captain Hardik to complete Axar Patel's full four-over quota but the India all-rounder made a rather interesting remark on his own match-up with the Windies batter.
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Hardik stated that he saved himself for the match-up with Pooran and indeed, as soon as the West Indies star arrived, Hardik introduced himself into the attack for a second spell. Pooran was eventually dismissed by Kuldeep Yadav, as the left-armer outfoxed the left-hander with a turner, getting him stumped.
“Nicky (Pooran) didn't come out to bat and that allowed us to keep our pacers back, also allowed Axar to bowl his four overs. If Nicky wants to hit, let him hit me and that was the plan, I enjoy such competition. I know he is going to hear this and will come hard at me in the fourth T20I,” Hardik said in the post-match presentation.
Interestingly, Hardik persisted with Kuldeep against Pooran despite the chinaman spinner conceding a six and a four against the batter in the previous over. Kuldeep did return impressive figures in the end, taking three wickets for 28 in his four overs. Axar, meanwhile, was also economical in his spell, registering figures of 1/24 while Mukesh Kumar (1/17), who was introduced in the 17th over of the innings, took a wicket of his first ball; he bowled two overs.