Some social media buzz unfolded following India’s win over West Indies in the third T20I on Tuesday, with the focal point of the chatter being an incident between Indian captain Hardik Pandya and Tilak Varma. During the game, as India were a mere 2 runs away from victory with 14 deliveries remaining, Tilak, positioned at 49 runs, held the non-striker’s position. In a decisive twist, Hardik confronted Rovman Powell’s delivery and, on the second-to-last ball of the over, powered a six that sealed the win. This move, while securing victory, ignited a discussion among fans across social platforms. Some argued that the captain could have opted to allow Tilak the opportunity to achieve his half-century milestone.
The 20-year-old southpaw is undeniably India’s steadfast performer in his debut T20I series. Tilak etched his mark as the leading run-scorer for India in both the first and subsequent T20Is, amassing 39 and 51 runs respectively. In the third encounter, he seamlessly embraced a supporting role alongside the in-form Suryakumar Yadav, exhibiting his adaptability as India navigated the task of rebuilding the innings after facing early setbacks.
As India were closing in on a win in the 3rd T20I, an intriguing exchange unfolded on the stump mic as well. Hardik’s words to Tilak, urging him to stand firm till the conclusion, were caught on the mic which further fueled the social media criticism of the Indian skipper. Notably, former Indian opener Aakash Chopra, reacting to the incident immediately following the match, had stated that the skipper had the option to allow Tilak to attain his personal milestone, while also highlighting that there was no ‘Net Run Rate’ scenario in the game.
Doesn’t have to be like MS Dhoni
On Saturday, the former opener spoke again on the incident – this time, though, he seemed more supportive towards Hardik even as he referred to a moment from 2016 between MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, which was widely cited by fans as well. With Virat playing a brilliant knock, Dhoni – wh had just arrived at the crease – played a defensive shot to allow Kohli to end the run-chase during a T20 World Cup match against South Africa. The gesture earned laurels for Dhoni at the time and the fans now urged Hardik to learn from his “idol.” Chopra, however, came in defence of the Indian T20I captain.
“Just to touch upon it. It’s an interesting one, Hardik Pandya has been trolled a lot and has been criticised. But there’s another school of thought that says, why are you talking about milestones in T20 cricket? So, that was quite in the middle of conversation.
“I remember once MS Dhoni played a forward defensive shot because he wanted him to finish it off, he didn’t want to take the limelight. But Hardik doesn’t have to be a Dhoni, even if he considers him an idol,” said the former opener.
Formal statements on this matter were notably absent, with neither Hardik nor Tilak, nor any members of the team management, addressing the situation. Nevertheless, Tilak Varma’s resolute showings in the T20Is have impressed many. As his robust performances continue to unfold, speculation brews that this budding talent may soon secure a pathway to the fifty-over format as well.