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‘Absolutely ordinary’, says Gavaskar on Hardik’s captaincy and bowling

Legendary India cricketer Sunil Gavaskar criticised Mumbai Indians (MI) skipper Hardik Pandya for “absolutely ordinary bowling and captaincy” after he conceded 26 runs in the final over of Chennai Super Kings innings in Sunday’s match, which eventually proved to be decisive in the visitors’ 20-run win.

At the Wankhede Stadium, Pandya was hit for three sixes by MS Dhoni as he scored 20 runs off just four balls in the last over, which yielded 26 runs for CSK to post an imposing 206. Dhoni’s stunning cameo of 20 not out eventually became the exact winning margin for CSK as MI suffered their fourth defeat of the tournament.

Pandya eventually had figures of 2-43 in his four overs with the ball. “One six is fine. But the next one again a length ball when you know that this batter is looking for a length ball to hit. The third ball again, a full toss on the leg side and he’s looking for it and hits it for a six. Oh, (that was just) absolutely ordinary bowling, ordinary captaincy. They should have been restricting CSK to 185-190 despite the fact that Ruturaj Gaikwad had batted so well along with Shivam Dube,” said Gavaskar on Star Sports.

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Kevin Pietersen, the former England skipper, thinks the boos and jeers Pandya has received regularly in the tournament from fans in the stadium has started to affect his on-field performances.

“I actually think with Hardik Pandya, everything away from the game is affecting him so much. He’s smiling too much when he does the toss. He’s trying to act like he’s so happy. But he’s not happy at all! I’ve been there, as I’ve been in the firing line and been there proper! I can tell you now that it affects you.”

“What’s happening with Hardik Pandya is the boos we have been hearing now and how happy they are to see former CSK captain and the Lion (MS Dhoni) smacking him all over the park, it hurts you. He has emotions, as he’s an Indian player. He doesn’t want to be treated like this. With this happening, it’s affecting him and his cricket and something needs to happen.”

Just like Gavaskar, Pietersen was also critical of Pandya’s performance with the ball in the last over. “What I saw this evening was not good enough. I saw a captain that had a plan A from a team meeting that was five hours ago and the captain didn’t want to go to Plan B when he should have gone for it.

“How on earth have you not bowled a spinner when your seamers are going for 20 runs? Brain Lara was saying on commentary, ‘Can we please bowl spinners?’ They have spinners that can bowl. You need to change the pace of the game,” said Pietersen.

MI, now at eighth place in the points table with four points from six matches, will next face Punjab Kings at Mullanpur on April 18.

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