Despite playing an impactful innings, all-rounder Hardik Pandya drew some flak on social media after he refused a single to Dinesh Karthik during the final over of the Indian innings in the first T20I of the five-match series, here.
India were 202-4 when Karthik joined Pandya at the crease after the first ball of the final over bowled by Anrich Nortje after Rishabh Pant’s dismissal.
After a swing-and-a-miss on his first ball, Karthik managed to get a single on a yorker-length ball and brought Pandya to the strike. The all-rounder then hit a six off the fourth ball of the over.
On the fifth ball, Hardik smashed a flick towards deep midwicket but surprisingly didn’t go for what would have been an easy single. Instead, the all-rounder opted to retain the strike, showing faith in himself to finish the innings with the big hit.
However, his call was met with criticism on social media, particularly considering Dinesh Karthik’s exploits during the final overs for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the recently-concluded IPL 2022.
“Hardik Pandya denying Dinesh Karthik the strike on the last ball as if DK is a tailender….,” wrote a user on Twitter.
Another user criticised Pandya for his bad attitude.
“Hardik Pandya really has a bad attitude when that 19.5 over is why he does not take single when Dinesh Karthik on another side #INDvSA worst behaviour,” he wrote.
“Denying a single to Dinesh Karthik, the finisher India picked for the match…,” another said in a tweet.
One user felt that even AB de Villiers would have taken that single.
“Denying strike to DK? Conceding a dot? No matter your form, no matter the score, not good Hardik. Even AB de Villiers at 98 would take that single. #INDvsSA
Another one was extra critical and said India does not require players like Hardik
“Hardik Pandya may have won IPL 2022. That does not mean he can do anything. Bowled a mediocre over. Denied Dinesh Karthik strike and wasted the last two balls on a flat track. India does not require such players. Let them play for Gujarat Titans,” he said.
The 28-year-old Pandya eventually scored two on the final ball of the innings to take India’s score to 211. However, it wasn’t enough as David Miller (64 off 31 balls) and Rassie van der Dussen (75 not out off 46 balls) chased down the target for South Africa with five balls remaining.
Notably, both Hardik and Karthik made their international comeback when they took the field against South Africa in the first T20I on Thursday in Delhi. While Pandya returned to the Indian XI for the first time since the last year’s T20 World Cup, Karthik had earned an India call-up after almost three years based on his consistent performances in the 2022 Indian Premier League.
Both sides will return to action for the second T20I of the series on Sunday, which takes place at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack.