There couldn't be any bigger "New Year Resolution" than winning a world championship for India's new T20 captain Hardik Pandya, who would ideally like his band of men to never deviate from the template of fearless cricket. (More Cricket News)
Hardik, who is expected to be a long-term T20 captain going into the 2024 T20 World Cup, feels that one thing that went haywire during the last edition in Australia was a divergent safety-first philosophy during the tournament after an all-out attack prior to it.
"The biggest is to win the World Cup. I don't think any bigger resolution can be there. Really want to win the World Cup, which we will try to do everything possible in our capacity... to go out there and give everything. I think things are looking bright and let's hope it is," the new skipper said on the eve of the three-match T20 series against Sri Lanka.
Someone, who is clear in his thought process and eloquent, Hardik didn't shy away from admitting that tinkering with his approach during T20 World Cup did affect the team.
While no names were taken, opener KL Rahul's defensive approach in big games (save Bangladesh and Zimbabwe) did cost the team dearly.
"Before the World Cup, I don't think we did anything wrong. Our template, our approach, our everything was the same. Just that in the World Cup, things did not go the way we wanted and I think our approach was not exactly what it was before the World Cup," Hardik in fact said everything without saying much.
His advice to the team is simple -- go and out express yourself.
"What we have noticed and what we have told the boys is that just go out there and express yourself, which they will do and it's up to us how we back them. We have said it we will back you to the core. All the players have that support from my side that I will back them to the core. I have to make them believe that," the all-rounder said.
EACH PLAYER WOULD GET AMPLE OPPORTUNITIES, ENSURES CAPTAIN
The new skipper knows that T20Is aren't a priority in the ODI World Cup this year and they only have six shortest format games (three vs New Zealand after this series) before IPL but going forward, youngsters will get enough chances to feel secure.
"We are looking to play in a certain way which we will. Before the IPL, only six games are there. So we don't have much time to do a lot of things. But, going forward, we will keep creating new plans and see which plans are sticking and which are working for us. And, going forward, make sure that everyone gets ample opportunities," Hardik said.
A serious prospect like Umran Malik would certainly get his share of chances.
"Obviously, he (Umran) has pace. Everyone knows how much of an exciting prospect he is. We will give him enough opportunities, give him enough backing and support from our side so that he can flourish."
India's bowling in T20Is has been a problem since Jasprit Bumrah's injury and the skipper's mantra is simple.
"Just ask my bowlers to bowl the best balls possible. And I think, playing at the international level, they are good enough to bowl those."
LAST ONE YEAR HAS BEEN MAGICAL
For Hardik, each and every accomplishment of his is due to the enormous hard work he has put in and that resulted in a great 2022 for him in T20 Internationals.
"Obviously, one year back, things were quite different. When I went out of the sport (because of lower back stress fracture), that was my call to go out and spend time and get better at it.
"It has been a magical year for me, obviously (I) would have liked the World Cup to come with it. But that is part and parcel of life. We tried, but it did not happen, but going forward what is next and what I want to achieve, there is a lot to achieve. I have not achieved anything."
Quiz him on managing his bowling workload, Hardik says the only "language" he knows is "language of hardwork".
"See, I know the language of hard work. I don't think I have known any other language in my life. I have been thrown here and there, the only thing that has got me back is my hard work. How I manage it is through my hard work.
"I believe in my processes, which have got me here and I am sitting here. So going forward as well, the only thing which I'm going to focus on is to make sure that I should give my body ample chance to be out there and be at my best," he concluded.