Hardik Pandya enjoys 'special' contribution in series win against England

All-rounder starred with bat and ball for India in T20 and ODI legs of tour

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All-rounder Hardik Pandya has come a long way since his back surgery in 2019, reinforcing his position as the premier white-ball cricketer in the Indian team.

Having spent a majority of the past two seasons either on the sidelines or playing just as a batsman, Pandya regained full fitness during the IPL earlier this year, guiding new franchise Gujarat Titans to the title and has not looked back since.

Timely contributions with bat and ball in the white-ball tour of England have made Pandya the No 1 limited overs cricketer in the Indian squad once again, with his fitness and workload being the only possible stumbling blocks heading into the T20 World Cup.

In the third one-dayer against England in Manchester on Sunday, Pandya was at his best as he took an ODI best 4-24 to dismiss the hosts for 259 in the absence of pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah.

Then in the chase, the 28-year-old smashed 71 off just 55 balls and shared a decisive partnership of 133 in 19 overs with Rishabh Pant (125 not out) after the tourists had collapsed to 72-4 in the face of another fine new-ball spell by Reece Topley.

Victory, completed with more than seven overs to spare, gave India a 2-1 series success after they won the preceding T20 campaign against 50-over world champions by the same margin.

"It's always special to contribute in all departments," player-of-the-series Pandya said.

"We knew Jasprit was not going to play this game. He was telling me that I might have to bowl a couple of overs at the death, I said they are 'very big shoes to fill'.

"I had to step up, not at the death, but in making sure that in the middle overs I got the breakthroughs."

With India staging next year's 50-over World Cup, and a T20 World Cup in Australia in October before that, Pandya's focus was firmly on the future. For now, he was happy to enjoy a job well done.

"England have been fantastic throughout the last couple of years, everyone found England one of the best teams in the world. To come here and perform and win is more important."

Pandya made a similar contribution in the T20 series as well. In the first T20 in Southampton, Pandya hit a quick 51 before picking up 4-33 in a comprehensive win for the visitors.

Meanwhile, England captain Jos Buttler admitted he will need time to grow into his role after his side slipped to another series defeat against India.

When Eoin Morgan stepped down from England duty last month, Buttler was the logical successor, but he has started his white-ball reign with losses in both the T20 and one-day series.

However, Buttler accepted he is a relative novice as skipper, so in the weeks and months ahead he will be relying on guidance from head coach Matthew Mott and other experienced players in the dressing room.

"I feel like a really experienced cricketer, but in terms of captaincy I'm quite a young captain with lots of opportunity to grow and learn about the role," he said.

"I think it will take a bit of time, I want to try and walk before I can run, I've just got to [it] work out, be myself and use the people around me to help me.

"There's such experienced guys in the dressing room and all the coaching staff have been really helpful for me and I can certainly lean on those guys to assist me."

Updated: July 18, 2022, 10:47 AM