Hardik Pandya was glad to help fill the “very big shoes” of Jasprit Bumrah after starring with both bat and ball during India’s series-clinching win over England.
Back spasms meant strike bowler Bumrah was ruled out of Sunday’s third and deciding one-day international at Old Trafford.
But after replacement Mohammed Siraj rocked England with a double-wicket maiden in his first over, medium-pacer Hardik took an ODI best 4-24 as the hosts were dismissed for 259.
Hardik, 28, followed up with a fine 71 and shared a decisive partnership of 133 in 19 overs with Rishabh Pant after India 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 Twenty20 campaign against 50-over world champions England by the same scoreline.
“It’s always special to contribute in all departments,” player of the series Hardik told reporters.
While Hardik’s excellent 55-ball innings, which included 10 fours, ended with India just shy of victory, Pant saw them home thanks to a superb 125 not out – the wicketkeeper’s maiden ODI hundred.
“You always aspire to play like this when your team is in trouble,” said 24-year-old left-hander Pant, who already has five Test centuries to his credit.
Hardik added: “We all know what kind of talent he (Pant) has. When it comes out, it’s very pleasing to the eye – your heartbeat also goes up but at the same time you are in awe of the kind of shots he plays.”
Turning to his bowling, Hardik 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.”
This was India’s first international match at Old Trafford following an agonising loss to New Zealand in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup.
But with India staging next year’s edition, and a Twenty20 World Cup in Australia in October before that, Hardik’s focus was firmly on the future that, for him, starts with an upcoming series in the West Indies.
“The past is the past, the Manchester semi-final has passed,” he said.
“You can’t change anything and in cricket there is no revenge, it does not matter to be honest. For us it was important how we go forward from here.
“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.”
England captain Jos Buttler, who top-scored for the hosts with 60, was left to rue missing a chance to stump Pant when his rival gloveman had made 18.
“If you give good players a second chance there’s a good chance they’ll hurt you,” Buttler said. “Rishabh is a fearless player, someone who is great to watch in all formats.”
England begin a three-match ODI series against South Africa on Tuesday with Buttler, who only recently succeeded retired World Cup-winning skipper Eoin Morgan as captain, optimistic they will be better for their India experience.
“We haven’t played much ODI cricket recently and it’s working out the rhythm again,” he said.
“Our ambition is to be the best team in the world and that means adapting quickly to what’s in front of you.”