Hardik Pandya has had a memorable start to his India captaincy as he led the side to a comprehensive seven-wicket win over Ireland at The Village in Dublin. Other than the heavy bout of rain that reduced the game to 12 overs per side, everything went as expected.

Chasing a not-so-easy target of 109, India rode on an explosive start from Deepak Hooda and Ishan Kishan before Pandya himself played a breezy cameo to ensure a comfortable win. 

Coming to bowl in the second over, it took Pandya only two balls to get rid of Paul Stirling and become the first-ever Indian captain to take a wicket in T20I. Pandya, however, ended up leaking 26 runs in 13 overs, as he soon found himself on the receiving end of Harry Tector’s onslaught. 

But India wouldn’t be too fussed about Pandya’s profligacy, given the nature of this venue, whose tiny dimensions always make hitting too easy for the batters. Tector slammed 64 off 33 deliveries to take Ireland to a fighting total. 

Pandya carried on with his middle-order dominance, stabilising the innings after India lost a couple of early wickets. When he came on the crease, India were teetering at 30/2, and they desperately needed a partnership. In the next five overs, Pandya and Deepak Hooda added 64 runs to seal the game. 

While Deepak, who came in place of the injured Ruturaj Gaikwad, slammed an unbeaten 47, Pandya played the supporting role with his 12-ball 24. Pandya’s brief stay at the crease was marked by three towering sixes. 

“Great to start the series with a win, fortunate we got a game. It is important for our team to start with a win,” Pandya, who became the eighth cricketer to lead India in T20Is, said after the win. 

Pandya was also asked about the debutant Umran Malik, who bowled only one over on his India debut. The skipper said he didn’t bring him to bowl another over because Malik is more comfortable with older balls.

“He’s (Umran Malik) been fantastic for his franchise (Sunrisers Hyderabad). But I felt, also had a chat with him, he’ll be more comfortable with the older ball,” added Pandya.

Image Source: Hardik Pandya/Twitter