Team India vice-captain Hardik Pandya received a barrage of criticism on social media on Thursday after he denied a single to veteran wicketkeeper batter Dinesh Karthik (DK) who made his return to the Indian cricket after three years. Hardik Pandya was walloping the ball, dealing in boundaries and sixes in the final over of the Indian innings in the first T20I against South Africa in Delhi when he didn't take a single on the penultimate ball of the 20th over. The 28-year-old all-rounder signalled to Dinesh Karthik that he wanted to keep the strike as he was seeing the ball well.

The Indian fans, however, weren't impressed with Hardik Pandya's tactics and some even questioned his attitude before accusing him of disrespecting a senior cricketer like Dinesh Karthik.

“Hardik Pandya denying Dinesh Karthik the strike on the last ball as if DK is a tailender,” a Dinesh Karthik supporter said on Twitter.

“Didn't like the way Hardik Pandya denied strike to Dinesh Karthik..Com'on man he isn't a bowler..Probably he is one of best and most experienced finisher,” wrote another.

A third posted on the micro-blogging platform: “Hardik Pandya refused to take a single on the penultimate ball of the 20th over even when Dinesh Karthik was the at the other end. Wooooo!”

Meanwhile, former India fast bowler Ashish Nehra who was the head coach of Hardik Pandya's Indian Premier League franchise the Gujarat Titans trolled him for refusing to give Dinesh Karthik the strike.

“He should have taken a single before the last ball. It was Dinesh Karthik at the other end, not me,” Nehra joked during a show on Cricbuzz.

“Hardik Pandya is someone who can play all kinds of roles. He has got every type of batting up his sleeve. We have seen him performing in Tests and ODIs as well. With his batting ability, he can perhaps bat at any position… be it No.3 or 4 spot. He was captain for Gujarat and contributed with the ball as well. It was a different role. Before that, he wasn't bowling much and was batting down the order. He is back in his old role tonight… but he has got the ability to pull off any role with ease,” Nehra added.

Hardik Pandya was back in the national team after a gap of six months, having last played in India colours in the previous T20 World Cup in the UAE in November.

Hardik Pandya who was exceptional in the IPL, having led Gujarat Titans to the title in their maiden season, was back at his explosive best in the game against South Africa.

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Clobbering the ball to all the corners of the park, Hardik Pandya made a brisk 31 off 12 balls.

Despite Hardik Pandya and Ishan Kishan's heroics (76 off 48 balls), India couldn't a total of 211 in Delhi as Temba Bavuma and company went on to register a seven-wicket win, thanks to Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller who raced through to 75 and 64 not out in 46 and 31 balls respectively.

Dinesh Karthik, on the other hand, returned to the Indian cricket team after having an incredible season with the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Karthik was the main man behind RCB’s run to the playoffs after he secured seven wins for them in their initial twelve matches, having scored 274 runs for Faf du Plessis' side at an extraordinary strike rate of 200 and a highly impressive average of 68.50.

His clean striking became the talk of the competition, leading to his comparisons with the legendary MS Dhoni who is widely regarded as the “greatest finisher” the sport has ever seen.

However, it wasn’t just his quick-fire knocks that got everyone talking but it was the overall impact of his batting on RCB’s success that also lifted his stakes in the eyes of Indian cricket fans in general and the selectors and pundits in particular.

Remarkably, Dinesh Karthik wasn’t dismissed in any of RCB’s first seven triumphs, smashing 200 runs at a stunning strike rate of more than 202 in those matches.

The 37-year-old eventually finished the cash-rich league with 330 runs in 16 games with the highest score of 66 not out and a superb strike rate of 183.33.

Due to his quick-fire knocks in the elite T20 tournament, Dinesh Karthik was named the ‘Super Striker of the Season’, becoming the first Indian in the 15-year history of the IPL to claim the prestigious award.

Before him, the prestigious honour had been dominated by West Indian cricketers with the likes of Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard, and Shimron Hetmyer winning it in the past.

Earlier this week, India head coach Rahul Dravid spoke about Dinesh Karthik's return to the national team, stressing that he was brought into the side for a specific role and he should deliver to remain in contention for a spot in the T20 World Cup squad later this year.

“With Dinesh, it's pretty obvious,” Dravid said. “It's very clear that he has made a comeback based on the skills that he has shown in a particular phase of the game. At that backend, Dinesh has really been able to show great consistency for the last 2 to 3 years. He has been able to make a difference in whichever team he has played.

“I don't see it any different and that's why he has been picked. He has been picked to bat in that kind of position and see whether he can replicate those kind of performances for India,” the India great concluded.