Sydney: He is not in India's Test squad for the upcoming series against Australia but fresh from his white-ball heroics, all-rounder Hardik Pandya on Sunday said he wouldn't mind staying back if the team management wants
Coming back from a back surgery, Pandya, who is yet to start bowling on a regular basis, shone bright with the bat in the limited overs matches against Australia, helping the visitors claim the T20I series after two big losses in the preceding ODI rubber.
Asked if he aspires to stay back for the four-match Test series starting December 17, Pandya said, "It's a different ball game, I think I need to be, I mean I don't mind but at the end of the day, the call is on the management. So, yeah, I don't think I can say much about it."
Pandya arrived in Australia having a played a key role for Mumbai Indians in their title-winning run in the Indian Premier League.
On Sunday, he powered India to a six-wicket win with a blazing unbeaten 42 off 22 balls, helping the side score 25 off 12 balls and 14 in the final over for a series-clinching victory in the second and penultimate T20I against Australia on Sydney.
The flamboyant all-rounder said he had worked on gaining mastery over "finishing games when it mattered the most" during the coronavirus-forced lockdown.
"During lockdown I wanted to focus on finishing games where it matters the most. It doesn't matter whether I score or don't score more runs," Pandya said at the post-match press conference.
The all-rounder was not new to the kind of situation he faced with at the SCG on Sunday, having won some and lost a few in the past.
"I have been in these situations many times and I learnt from my mistakes in the past. My game is always around the confidence which I carry, it has that fine line where I back myself and not become overconfident.
"I always remember all those times when we chased big totals and it helps," said the man who is in a pretty good “zone" at the moment and playing according to the situation instead of getting too excited.
Pandya hit debutant pacer Daniel Sams for two sixes -- one over long on and one over midwicket -- to seal the game in India's favour with two balls to spare.
"It was not about what they are doing, it was about what I can do. It's a matter of two big shots and today it came off. I always back myself. It's the situation I have always played. Whatever the team requires I always try to do.
"It's very simple. I like to look at scoreboard and play so that I know which bowlers to target."
He said he had always focused more on the process rather than the end result.
"In T20s, you actually have more time than you think. If we need 70-80 odd in 30 balls, I don't look at the whole thing and I break it down to 12 balls and focus more on the process than the end result."
Pandya was named the man of the match for his heroics with the bat but he thought the award should have gone to T Natarajan (2/20 in 4 overs) for the newcomer's fine effort with the ball.
"Special mention to Natarajan as well. I thought he should be the man of the match, because the bowlers struggled here and he had a really good game.
"He gave us a target about 10 or 15 runs lower than what it would have been. He keeps it simple and I prefer people who don't complicate things," Pandya said.
Speaking about the difference between playing in the IPL and for India, he said, "In franchise cricket, you have to step up because it's a professional sport, and here its about the love for your country and you feel more pressure here."
Pandya, who has often spoken about his love for the 1998-90s West Indian style of cricket, picked his Mumbai Indians teammate Kieron Pollard as his inspiration.
"I don't think I have to think much about that, it's going to be Polly. He has done it many, many times for his franchises, Mumbai Indians, for me the inspiration has always been him and I have been genuinely lucky seeing few of his knocks in the past," Pandya said.