Sydney: Krunal Pandya, who was adjudged Player of the Match in India's six-wicket victory over Australia in the third T20I, lavished praise on Virat Kohli, who notched up a 41-ball 61 not out in the chase.
India started swiftly in the 165-run chase, as openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan added 67 runs for the first wicket, before the latter was dismissed by Mitchell Starc for a 22-ball 41. Sharma followed in the very next over after his woodwork was disturbed by Adam
"With the way we started, we didn't think that it will go this close. But, Virat was there ? he has played this kind of an innings number of times and he has taken out the team from this position. So we had the self-belief. Plus, Dinesh and I were there as well," said Pandya, who returned figures of 4/36 in the Australian innings to help restrict the hosts to 164/6.
Kohli, who promoted himself up the batting order to come in at No.3 for the first time this season, built a 41-run stand with KL Rahul before the latter was dismissed by Nathan Coulter-Nile off the final ball of the 13th over. Pant fell for a golden duck off the very next delivery, helping Australia get their foot in the door halfway through the chase,an ICC report said.
However, the visiting skipper remained unbeaten, collaborating with Dinesh Karthik to take India past the finish line with two balls to spare. "On the ground, he is very aggressive, that is how he plays and he has been very successful. Off the field, he is a very easygoing guy, very easy to approach and he cracks jokes, he's a funny guy," said Pandya about the Indian captain.
"There are a lot of things that you can learn from him. He has been so consistent, sometimes he even fights with the law of averages. That's Virat for you ? he has set a very high benchmark for every player. He shows that if you believe in yourself and your work ethics are very good, you can consistently perform at this level," he said.
Pandya did not have a very comfortable time in the series opener, where he leaked 55 runs in his four-over spell. However, the all-rounder turned it around in SCG, claiming the best figures by a spinner in a T20I in Australia.
"Obviously, it was very difficult," admitted the 27-year-old. "When you play your first game in Australia and the way they hammered me ? 53 runs in four overs ? it was not that easy to come out of that. I am happy [now]. You really feel good when you come out of those kinds of hurdles. Obviously, as a bowler you have to understand that this is the T20 format, one day you will get hit, one day you will pick up wickets.
"I had to wait for my opportunities, but I was quite confident and I was preparing myself accordingly so that whenever I get my opportunity I grab it with both the hands. This is only my second T20I series. It will be a long journey and this is just the beginning. I just want to improve every day, every game and just focus on the process rather than thinking about the results," Pandya added.(UNI)