There was no brotherly support for Krunal Pandya after his torrid start to the T20I series against Australia, but then he wouldn’t have expected any.
Krunal and Hardik Pandya are more used to ribbing each other when things go badly than taking the arm-round-the-shoulder approach, but when they next speak Krunal will be able to mention his Man-of-the-Match performance in helping India level the series at the SCG.
The series has gone by in a flash – three games in five days – but that short space of time has seen quite a turnaround in Krunal’s fortunes. In Brisbane he was taken for 55 runs, which included six sixes, four of them off the bat of Glenn Maxwell. In the next two matches, Krunal dismissed Maxwell twice – celebrating wildly both times – and also claimed the best T20I figures for a spinner in Australia.
“We don’t talk about cricket too much. We did talk, but he was laughing at me for conceding 50-plus runs,” Krunal said of his conversation with Hardik after Brisbane. “I also joke when he plays badly, so that is our thing.”
Behind the humour, though, Krunal admitted to having to dig deep after the experience at the Gabba, which created a debate around the balance of the India side and how they were missing Hardik’s all-round capabilities, which left legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal sidelined all series. There is potential significance beyond this series, too, with the next men’s World T20 being staged in Australia in 2020, so if Krunal is part of India’s squad for that tournament he will return with some positive memories.
“Giving away 50-plus runs in Brisbane was very tough for me, the next 24 hours were tough. I had to convince myself again,” he said. “It took me a while to back myself when you give away 55 runs plus playing at this level where you have hardly played any games.
“I was happy to overcome that because when you overcome such hurdles you are able to do well. They were two drastic results for me. As a bowler you have to understand this is the T20 format and it’s part and parcel of game. One day you will get hit and one day you will get wickets.
“When you come back like this, it is very satisfying, you had such a bad day and then against the same opponent you do well, it gives satisfaction and happiness and a surety that you belong at this level. So today’s performance was very important because until you do it at this level you won’t get the confidence.”
Krunal was aided in Melbourne and Sydney by the partnership he formed with left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav. Australia struggled to score off Kuldeep, who didn’t concede more than 24 in any of his three outings, meaning the batsmen had to be extra aggressive against Krunal. It went their way in Brisbane, but at the SCG it resulted in three wickets from sweeps and the prized scalp of Maxwell caught at long-on.
“For me it becomes easier when your spin partner is bowling really well and you can share ideas,” Krunal said. “Every game he gave me some tips about how I can bowl according to the situation and it helps when someone is putting lot of pressure on the other end. So when you bowl you get a chance to take wickets, so a lot of credit goes to Kuldeep for creating pressure and it helped me to get those wickets.”
His spin-bowling team-mate helped him more than his brother, but that’s just how the Pandyas like it.