India’s fast-bowling all-rounder and vice-captain Hardik Pandya delved into the significance of the much-anticipated 2023 Asia Cup, saying the six-team tournament will check the character and personality of the Rohit Sharma-led side ahead of the all-important Men’s ODI World Cup.
India will open their 2023 Asia Cup campaign against Pakistan on September 2, before playing Nepal on September 4. Both of India’s Group A matches will be played at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy.
"A lot of emotions are attached by fans. For us, it is about playing a good team, playing a match against a very good side who has done very well in the recent past. Couple of finals they’ve played and the tension between us is always there.
“So for me, we try to keep the outside noise outside, and we focus on how we can play good cricket. At the end of the day, we are cricketers. We can’t get too emotional about it because then certain decisions can be reckless, which I don’t believe in.
"But, at the same point of time, it’s a mega event. It’s an event which I’ve seen how it checks your character, checks your personality, and at the same point in time, you can see in how deep waters you can swim. So for me, all these factors excite me a lot and yeah, I can’t wait," said Pandya to Star Sports.
Additionally, Pandya shed light on his approach to ODIs, stressing the need for adaptability in the 50-over format. He also talked about the nuances of preparing for high-stakes matches in the format, especially from a mental perspective.
"It’s just that you have a little more time than what you think. I believe in T20 as well, you have more time than you think, but at the same time, ODI is a much longer game. It is a game where you have to adapt, you have to get used to the conditions because the game is going on for 50 overs, and to play, to win against a good side, you have to play a good 100 overs of cricket.
"That’s when you win the game. So as a cricketer, for me, my mindset only changes for the fact that I start preparing according to how the ODI format demands, and if the preparation is proper, then I just go out there and read the situation. Because half of the time the situation dictates itself, so you don’t have to use rocket science, you’ve to just watch the game, see, try to understand what’s happening and maybe take a smarter call," he added.
Former Indian cricketer Sanjay Bangar, who was the side’s batting coach during 2019 Men’s ODI World Cup, highlighted Pandya's growth since joining the Indian team in 2016, praising his recovery from back injury and his all-round development in the format. “See, he is not a new player. He is a veteran of the Indian Team. He has been in the side since 2016. He has the experience and as an individual, he has grown a lot.”
"The way he recovered after his injury, got his fitness back and how he has captained the side in the T20 format for the Indian side whenever he has got the opportunity, he has guided the team in a very good way."
"So because of all these things, you as an individual and your character become well-rounded, where you understand the game better. And the way he speaks, you get the impression that he has these qualities in him," he concluded.
Top two sides from Groups A and B will progress to the Super Fours, where they will play three more games at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, which will also host the final on September 17.