When Hardik Pandya came in to bat against Sri Lanka in the second T20I, he knew his priorities. The team was struggling at 21/3 and the required run rate had hovered around 15. Pandya, on the first ball only went for a boundary towards the leg side. After, a while, he hit Karunaratne for a six towards long on. Though his stay was short-lived as he was caught behind by Kusal Mendis, Pandya batted aggressively.
And the team's strategy was also clear: that the batting style had to be attacking. The team no longer relied on old-school batting approach to go slow for the first six overs and then go for big shots towards the end overs.
The same tactic was adopted by Axar Patel and Suryakumar Yadav who went on to build a 91-run partnership for the sixth wicket. With a target of more than 207 on the board and the team five wickets down, the body language of the batters told that they meant business.
Both Axar and Suryakumar went for big shots especially targeting the spinners. Axar Patel, especially, smashed his fastest fifty off just 20 balls. The bowling allrounder hit Sri Lankan spinner Wanindu Hasaranga for three consecutive sixes in an over. He ended up with his highest score of 65 runs off 31 balls while Suryakumar Yadav finished with 51 runs off 36 balls.
Though India lost the match by 16 runs, it was a splendid show with the bat by Axar Patel, Suryakumar Yadav and Shivam Mavi.
The batting order looks perfect: In the absence of Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan is a great opening choice with Shubman Gill. Both of these players have a good domestic track record and are solid players in the IPL.
A decent pace attack: Umran Malik is the new speed sensation of the Indian team. The team which had been struggling with average pace attack seems to have found a new lease of life with new pacers Umran Malik, Shivam Mavi and Arshdeep Singh.
In the spin department, Yuzvendra Chahal, Washington Sundar and Axar Patel are doing a good job.
Hardik Pandya's captaincy: Overall, the team boasts fresh energy, which is needed in the T20 cricket. The old school type of batting, which was heavily criticised after the T20 World Cup loss has taken the back seat, and Hardik Pandya's leadership has rejuvenated the team.
The team under Pandya looks determined to tackle any opponent on the international stage.