Hardik Pandya's act was termed pathetic, shameful, and full of selfishness by the netizens who slammed him on social media following India's seven-wicket triumph over the West Indies.
India's victory ensured the series remained alive, given that the hosts had won the previous two games.
However, more than India's win, Hardik Pandya's act became the talking point on the internet as he faced trolls on X, formerly known as Twitter.
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Even the legendary MS Dhoni's fans were left scratching their heads after Hardik Pandya denied Tilak Varma a chance to complete his half-century against the West Indies.
Hardik Pandya's move led MS Dhoni supporters to dub him the “clown”, who should never be compared with the former India skipper, considering he was a selfless cricketer.
Also, Hardik Pandya was branded a “chapri” or “chhapri” on social media following his decision to hit a six to win the 3rd T20I for India against the West Indies.
His move left young left-handed batter Tilak Varma stranded at 49*, thus denying him an opportunity to complete a well-deserved fifty in international cricket.
As per a definition in Urban Dictionary, a “chapri” or “chhapri” is described as a “person with no sense of responsibility. Someone who thinks getting trendy haircuts and clothes makes him/her special and attractive and often wastes his/her time on social media without any contribution to society”.
Hardik Pandya has created a fair share of controversies during the ongoing five-match T20I series against the West Indies.
In the previous clash against the Rovman Powell-led side, his call of not bowling Yuzvendra Chahal in the final quarter of the Caribbean team's batting was questioned by many pundits as the Men in Blue lost the match.
After West Indies posted a score of 159/5 in their allotted 20 overs, the Indian cricket team found itself under tremendous pressure at 34/2, having lost both openers by the time Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma joined each other for a grand fightback.
While Yashasvi Jaiswal got out for 1 in his debut game, Shubman Gill's poor run of form continued in the series as he perished for six. After that, Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma took the lead, forging an 87-run partnership before the former was sent back to the pavilion by Alzarri Joseph for 83.
After Suryakumar Yadav's departure, Hardik Pandya came out to bat and immediately found his groove in the middle. As the Indian innings proceeded, the Men in Blue required only two runs to register their first win in the five-match series with more than two overs to spare.
With Tilak Varma batting at 49*, everyone thought Hardik Pandya would allow him to reach his half-century. But, the India skipper was in no mood to delay his side's victory as he finished the contest with a six, leaving Tilak Varma stranded on 49.
However, his sixer did not bring joy to the Indian supporters, as they pointed out that by doing so, he denied a young man a half-century in T2OIs.
Others urged the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to sack him from the leadership of the national team. The fans pleaded that in his place, Suryakumar Yadav should be appointed the skipper in T20Is.
Hardik Pandya, however, was unperturbed by his trolling on social media. Instead, he labeled his team's victory at the Providence Stadium in Guyana “important”.
“Obviously it was very important within the group. I said that it was a very important game that had to be enjoyed. At the end of the day, we have the long-term plan that we have in our mind. And at the same time, it is also our goal to show that we have the plan to do the job here in this point in time,” Hardik Pandya said in the post-match presentation ceremony.
On being asked if the Indians had a specific plan for former West Indies skipper Nicholas Pooran who was responsible for their loss in the last match because of his blistering fifty, the allrounder mentioned that they did have a plan for him.
“Yeah, if Nicky wants to hit, let him hit me, that was the plan. I enjoy that kinda competition where I know I cannot err the line or length a lot. As it gives the advantage to Nicky. In the fourth game, I hope he comes very hard at me and gives me a wicket as well,” he added.
When asked if Indian spinners were part of their tactics against Nicholas Pooran, Hardik Pandya insisted that he wanted to deploy them when he was not at the crease.
“We wanted to use them more with Nicky [Pooran] not coming in. Axar didn't bowl in the last match, but the way he bowled today, I could use Yuzi and Kuldeep later. Mukesh and Arshdeep ended well,” the 29-year-old highlighted.
“Within the group it is important we back ourselves. It is what it is. We don't have someone at 8. But bowlers win you games. If batters scores runs, you don't anyone at 8. The next game will be exciting,” he opined.
Hardik Pandya also shared his views on the match-winning partnership between Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma, who combined for an 87-run stand that gave India a firm footing in the game.
“Surya and Tilak play together and understand the game well. It's good to have Surya in my team. He loves the challenge and I like to have someone like him. With the strike rate he bats, it gives the other batters a chance to learn what he is doing and that also shows his character,” Hardik Pandya summed up.
Meanwhile, former India opener Aakash Chopra was perplexed by Hardik Pandya's tactics in the match as he did not utilize Axar Patel's left-arm spin bowling to an optimum effect against the West Indies batters.
“(Skipper) Hardik Pandya will also have a responsibility to make runs himself and stay on the crease till the very end so that you have enough runs on the board which can be defended. And while I speak of bowling, I am astonished as Axar (Patel) isn't being utilised, because if you are playing a left-arm spinner and think you won't bowl him against a lefty, so you will get (Kyle) Mayers in the beginning, then Nicholas Pooran and then (Shimron) Hetmyer and then Akeal Hossein, so you can’t make him play the match. I feel Axar can be utilised in a better way,” Aakash Chopra said in a conversation with Jio Cinema.
“In the first six overs, it's important to capitalise. But it is only possible if you have wickets in hand. It's not like India lose a wicket early on. They are playing the first two overs cautiously,” he explained.
“But if you divide the powerplay into two halves, in the second half of the powerplay you need to accelerate. If you get 10 runs per over, you suddenly find yourself at 50/1. But the current scenario seems different where you lose two wickets for 36-37 runs. So, we are neither here nor there, so we do have problems. Now, that Shubham and Ishan have played two matches they need to show more intent. But they also need to keep in mind which bowler to target,” the ex-India batter expressed.
The action between the two sides will shift to the Central Broward Stadium in Lauderhill, with the fourth and fifth T20Is scheduled in Florida. The United States will host the remaining two games on Saturday and Sunday.