Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was today impressed by Hardik Pandya's cameo in India's convincing win in the Asia Cup T20 opener against Bangladesh and called the young all-rounder an "overall package" who could be promoted in the batting order in the coming days.
India launched their campaign in style as they thrashed Bangladesh by 45 runs riding on a brilliant 83 by Rohit Sharma. Pandya's 18-ball 31 and Ashish Nehra's 3/23 played a big role in India's 45-run win at the Shere Bangla National Stadium.
"Batting fearlessly is Hardik's strength and that's why we want to give him more matches, he's a good fielder too and a useful third seamer," Dhoni said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
He added, "He is an overall package we can promote him often," as that gives them the option of "playing an extra batsman".
Put into bat on a pacer-friendly wicket, India scored a challenging 166 for six with Rohit scoring his runs under pressure after they were reduced to 42 for three at one stage. Pandya was the other notable contributor.
Dhoni further said: "The way Rohit batted that was needed. It would've been good to win the toss. We wanted to see the kind of start and then set a target. It was kind of 55-45 with the toss. Rather than hitting the big shots straight down, it was important to cut and use such shots since they were bowling short of length."
About his role with bat, Dhoni said it has changed a bit in recent times as he is expected to score 20-25 runs in the 10-15 balls he normally gets to play.
"Sometimes it's hard. Because I am expected to score 20-25 runs in those balls, which is difficult."
And about his muscle spasm, which he suffered on Monday, Dhoni said, "I'll be able to sit tomorrow."
Man of the Match Rohit, who scored his runs off 55 balls, felt this is a perfect platform for the team before the ICC World T20.
"It's important for me to start afresh and not look back too much. This is a perfect platform for us before the World Cup.
Asked about the wicket, the stroke maker Rohit said, "It was unusual to see this kind of wicket in this part of the world. It was always important for one batter to bat as long as possible and I told myself I had to do that.
"I was focusing on my basics on this kind of the pitch, use the pace of the bowlers. It was a good wicket and the ball was carrying."
Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza said Rohit took the game from them.
"Last 15 years I've seen that fans always support us. We were in the game till the 14th over but after that Rohit took the game away from us. We bowled a lot of slower ones later and the ball was not gripping.
Feature image source: PTI