Heaping praise on India and Mumbai Indians all-rounder Hardik Pandya, Jean-Paul Duminy on Tuesday termed the Baroda all-rounder as “pressure-moment” player during the business end of the Indian Premier League (IPL) season.
Pandya, last Sunday, starred with bat and ball to help Mumbai record their second win on the bounce against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), a team they take on once again at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
“Those are type of players that we need specially at this time of the tournament where you kind of refer to them as pressure players or pressure moments (player) and you like those pressure moment players to step up and execute their skills to the best of their abibilty,” South African Duminy told reporters on the eve of the game.
“He has been exceptional to watch. I have played against him a few times and now I have the opportunity to play with him. He is an exceptional talent and one of those characters that backs himself in pressure moments,” the 34-year old added.
Pandya smacked an unbeaten 20-ball 35 in the previous game when the Mumbai middle- order flopped once again after Suryakumar Yadav and Evin Lewis gave the Rohit Sharma-led side a blistering start.
Pandya combined some innovative shots — including a scoop over his shoulder and a one-handed six over long-off — with a couple of fortunate edged boundaries in the last over — bowled by the debutant Krishna rather than Russell or Mitchell Johnson — to give Mumbai what proved a vital run cushion in the end.
Pandya was brilliant in the 18th over as well, using short pitched deliveries to good effect and applying the choke on KKR when they needed 43 runs required from 18 balls. Pandya returned impressive figures of 2/19 in four overs.
“I think the way he has executed is exceptional but the way he has stayed calm under pressure and had same sort of demeanour throughout success or failure has been great to see and admirable in my point of view for most of India to be honest,” Duminy said.
Pandya has so far taken 14 wickets in nine matches, the joint highest wicket-taker along with Umesh Yadav (14 scalps in 10 matches).
Mumbai were slow to get off the blocks in the opening few matches before picking up pace in the last two matches. Placed fifth with eight points from 10 games, Mumbai are a rung below KKR who are in fourth spot. With four games to be played, Duminy said they will continue to play aggressive cricket which has helped them turn the tide in their favour.
“What’s been great about our team is that we recognised that we need to take the responsibiliy and change the fortunes around,” Duminy said.
“The manner in which we have played our cricket in the few days epitomised the brand of cricket we play and that’s aggressive one. We take the bull by the horns. We obviously want to try and win every game from here on,” he added.
Mumbai have won 17 times against KKR out of their 21 meetings. On top of that, their 13-run win against KKR just three days back gives them the edge.
“Momentum is key. This is the first time in the tournament we experienced winning back to back games. But it’s a fresh game, a fresh start,” Duminy said.
“We can’t be living in the past or past success. We want to make sure what challenge lies in front of us. KKR would like to want to come back fighting. Also in a position where they want to win. We will want to make sure we are smart, clinical in executing the skills.”