Legendary MS Dhoni's fans were left scratching their heads after India captain Hardik Pandya denied young batter Tilak Varma a chance to complete his fifty against the West Indies in the third T20I on Tuesday.
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.
Captain cool. Captain Clown. pic.twitter.com/Yj8cVi7GUO
— Ctrl C Ctrl Memes (@Ctrlmemes_) August 6, 2023
— PJ says (@PjPriyank2) August 8, 2023
you idolize MS Dhoni, and still you did not care to give strike to young Tilak Varma despite being the captain? When he was batting at 49* ?
You can never be like him.#HardikPandya pic.twitter.com/wHJSB0hcyD
— 👌👑🌟🌶️ (@superking1816) August 8, 2023
— Ministry Of Sarcasm (@M_OfSarcasm) August 8, 2023
— Legends Speak (@CapSparrowX45) August 8, 2023
This is the difference between a leader and a captain#HardikPandya could hv easily played it but no he wants to show off with a six
Game won by Tilak and sky
When Tilak needs only 1 run to complete his 2nd fifty in 3 innings
— Vibhor Varshney (@nakulvibhor) August 8, 2023
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 explained.
“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, West Indies skipper Rovman Powell admitted that his side fell short by at least 10-15 runs during their batting. At the same time, his speedsters allowed the Indian batters to dominate the proceedings by offering them pace on the balls.
“We were 10-15 runs short. But having said that, credit to the batting unit especially the opening partnership, that's the kind of start what we asked for. In hindsight, you can say that (sending Pooran at number 3) but we wanted to give Charles an opportunity, we know what Pooran can do and what kind of form he is in,” Rovman Powell said.
“We bowled with too much pace on the ball and that made it easy for the Indian batters. We have a few days gap and we have to come up with better plans,” he concluded.