India’s T20I captain, Hardik Pandya, has shouldered the blame for India’s defeat against West Indies in the series decider in Florida on August 13. The match marked India’s first series loss under Pandya’s leadership.
The game took place at Lauderhill, where India faced difficulties defending a target of 166 runs in the final T20I of the five-match series. Despite a below-par total, India was unable to contain the prowess of Brandon King and Nicholas Pooran, who led West Indies to victory in the second innings.
During the post-match presentation, Pandya acknowledged his failure to deliver with the bat, which altered the course of the match and tilted the outcome in favor of West Indies. Pandya’s batting performance saw him score only 14 runs off 18 balls in the 17th over of the game. Although he managed to hit his sole six in the 16th ball of his innings, his contribution proved insufficient.
Reflecting on the match, Pandya commented, “If you see, we lost that period post the ten overs. I came there, took my time, and was not able to capitalize. I think the boys played well but I failed to play accordingly at that point in time.”
Despite a promising start in the second innings with Arshdeep Singh’s wicket of opener Kyle Mayers, India was unable to maintain control as West Indies asserted dominance with the bat. Pandya’s decision to utilize his pacers early in the game, in anticipation of rain, did not yield favorable results.
Pandya’s bowling choices also drew scrutiny, particularly his decision not to bowl Axar Patel in the first 10 overs while Nicholas Pooran was at the crease. The West Indies duo of King and Pooran skillfully navigated Kuldeep Yadav’s threat and capitalized on other bowlers.
A substantial rain delay further disrupted the match’s rhythm in the 13th over. Despite Pooran’s dismissal by Tilak Varma upon resumption, Shai Hope’s return secured West Indies’ decisive victory.
Speaking about the team’s long-term strategy, Pandya said, “All these games are the games where you are going to challenge ourselves. In the hindsight, one series here and there is fine. It is a longer process which I don’t need to explain much. The boys are trying to commit themselves well and I think that is going well.”
He also emphasized the importance of learning from losses, stating, “I mean it’s a long way now [the T20 World Cup 2024]. The next is the ODI World Cup. Losing is good sometimes. It teaches you a lot of things. It does not cover up the messes.”
This defeat marked India’s first T20I series loss under Pandya’s captaincy and West Indies’ first victory over India in a T20I series in six years. Reflecting on the future, Pandya expressed, “It’s a long way. We have the ODI World Cup coming up. And sometimes losing is good. You get to learn a lot.”
In the face of critics’ observations about his bowling decisions, Pandya defended his instincts-driven approach, saying, “It is what I feel at the moment, I don’t plan much. If I see a situation, whatever my gut says I follow.”
Pandya commended the efforts of youngsters Tilak Varma and Yashasvi Jaiswal for their resolute performance, stating, “They’ve got heart. That is something that’s very important in international cricket… Kudos to them, they came out and took responsibility. I can’t be happier as a captain.”