'Prithvi Shaw can probably...': Mohammad Kaif passes verdict on Hardik Pandya's captaincy after New Zealand series
Mohammad Kaif explained what role Hardik Pandya played as a captain in India's series win over New Zealand on Wednesday.
India's stand-in skipper Hardik Pandya guided the Men In Blue to another T20I series win on Wednesday as the Shubman Gill-inspired side crushed New Zealand in the third and final encounter at Ahmedabad. Pandya-led Team India thrashed Mitchell Santner's New Zealand by 168 runs in the series decider at Narendra Modi Stadium. Lauding Pandya's leadership after India sealed the T20I series, former Indian cricketer Mohammad Kaif credited the star all-rounder for backing opener Gill in the recently concluded contest at Ahmedabad.
Opener Gill had struggled for form in the first two games of the three-match series between India and New Zealand. The Indian opener had recorded mediocre scores of 7 (6) and 11 (9) before returning to scoring ways in the 3rd T20I against New Zealand. Gill smashed his maiden century as Pandya-led India managed to post a match-winning total in the series decider at Ahmedabad. Showering praise on the Indian skipper, ex-cricketer Kaif pointed out that Pandya gave Gill a longer rope with Prithvi Shaw waiting in the wings.
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"The captain has a huge role in deciding the XI you are going to play. You become greedy at times, when players are sitting in the squad, that your openers are not firing and it is a big decider, so (Prithvi) Shaw can probably do that job. There were many moments when he took the right decision. He played the same team today as well. It was a different thing that Ishan Kishan got out but the decision was correct. He backed (Shubman) Gill and said at the toss that he will bat," Kaif told Star Sports.
Gill played a sensational knock of 126 off 63 balls as India posted 234-4 in 20 overs. At 23 years and 146 days, the star opener became the youngest Indian batter to score a T20I century. Gill also holds the highest score by an Indian in the shortest format of the game. Opener Gill made his T20I debut against Sri Lanka at Wankhede Stadium in 2023. The 23-year-old has amassed 202 runs in 6 T20Is for Team India.