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NZ vs Ind 2022 – It’s not personal, it has to do with the team’s plans

“First of all, this is my team. The coach [VVS Laxman, in this case] and I’ll pick the team that we think is right,” he said after the series. “And there’s a lot of time, everyone gets a chance, and when they do, they get a longer run. But it’s hard because this was a short series. If it had been a long series, more players would have had a chance.

“It was a short run and I don’t believe in a lot of chopping and changing, and I won’t in the future. So it was simple and related to what the team needed. I wanted a sixth bowling option. To have that we here. Deepak (Hooda) bowled, and when batters put in a chip (with the ball) as he did. Ultimately in T20 cricket there will be chances. And in a match, even if things don’t go your way, you can make things mix up by bringing in new bowlers and surprising the batters.

Samson, especially, and Gill might have expected a New Zealand appearance or two in the absence of the recent men’s T20 World Cup top three Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli. Gill has never played T20I cricket but Samson has, and has a T20I average of 44.75 over the last 12 months, his runs coming fast. In ODIs over the same period, he averages 82.66.

How does he deal with players who have to warm up the bench for a long time?

“It’s not hard, but it’s how you deal with it that matters,” said Hardik. “It’s simple for me – I have the same kind of comparison with all players, and if I can’t pick a player, he knows it’s not personal. It has to do with the situation. I’m a people person. So if someone needs me I will be there for them. Everyone knows that if they feel anything at all, my door is always open for them to come and have a chat with me because I understand how they feel.

“When they sit outside…Sanju Samson for example: we wanted to play against him but for some reason we couldn’t. But I can put myself in their shoes and understand how they feel. As a cricketer it’s hard “What you say too. You’re in the Indian team, but you don’t get a chance in the XI, so that’s difficult. At the end of the day I can say whatever I want, but it will only be words. It will still be difficult for them to deal with. But if I can create a healthy environment, where the players can come and talk to me if they feel bad, or talk to the coach, if I stay captain, I think it won’t be a problem. Because my nature is that I make sure everyone is together.”

Following India’s semi-final exit at the World Cup, their somewhat conservative approach at the top of the batting order was criticized. There is talk of Hardik taking over the T20I captaincy, his leadership of Gujarat Titans in their first season of the IPL in 2022 where they won the title after pushing his case.

“What I’ve tried to do is … if you’ve reached the international level, you’ve obviously done well and achieved success at the lower levels,” said Hardik. “As a captain, my job is to give the players as much freedom as possible and to create a culture where the player can play without fear and not be blamed if he fails.

“That was also our approach during the World Cup, but since we didn’t win, it emphasized what we couldn’t do well. But in the future it will be about not playing in any way; the effort will be to enjoy the game, play without fear. If you think you want to crush the first ball, go ahead; management will support you. We want players to play with freedom.”

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