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India vs Ireland: Hardik Pandya named captain of India for T20I

Hardik Pandya has had an impressive debut season as captain of Gujarat Titans in this season of the Indian Premier League. The Titans captain, who led the team to the IPL title earlier this year, has been named India's captain for the two-match T20 International series against Ireland, starting on Sunday.

Pandya admitted that this duty drives him to perform his best on the cricket field. In his remarks, the all-rounder said he asserted that taking ownership of the field is essential.

"Earlier also, I liked taking up responsibility and now also it is the same but it is a bit more responsibility now. I always believed that I did better when I took responsibility," said Pandya in a virtual press conference before the first T20I match.

Pandya claimed that taking ownership and making decisions on his own leads to stronger play on the field. An important aspect of playing cricket is staying strong in difficult situations, and taking responsibility as a captain helps him become a better player.

He continued, "While captaining I will see how I can give the same responsibility to every player and give them the ability to fight with situations."

Every captain has style

Pandya said he has learned a lot about leadership qualities from playing under Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli, but he pointed out that every captain has a different style.

"Obviously I have taken a lot of things from them [Dhoni and Kohli], but at the same time, I also want to be myself, obviously my understanding of the game is different, but I have taken a lot of good vibes from them," Pandya said.

The opportunity to lead India is a big deal for Pandya, who says he doesn't play cricket to prove anything or show off. He claims that his decision-making isn't instinctive.

Pandya observes more situations instead of following his feelings blindly for decision making, such as at what point of time or what decision the team needs.

"Gut always goes 50-50," he added.

India comes with solid skills

Pandya says that India's ability and skill now is a good sign for the game in the country, as they are fielding their reserve players against Ireland. The players will have the opportunity to express themselves if a situation arises, forcing them to send two teams, and many people will have the chance to participate.

"The way talent has come up and the character the players have shown and the way we played, it indicates India's bench strength," he said.

Ireland won't be taken lightly

Pandya said they would approach the short series like a big tournament despite fielding a second-string side against Ireland.

It's a mental challenge to compete in this championship. The biggest pride is to play for India, not to play against Ireland. Every game going forward will be crucial for India to reach the World Cup final if they want to win the tournament.

"The first thing I said to all is that it doesn't matter whom we are playing. We need to focus on our own things," he emphasized.

Whether playing in the World Cup or a major series, the squad keeps the same level of intensity. Mental strength plays a significant role in how competent the players can get. Two matches are not easy to get on, but they are playing for India and must play their best.

"The discussion between me and the coach is simple. Approach the game as you do in any other game for India," said Pandya.

Gian Chacko

Sports enthusiast with love for cricket, football and sports in general. Holds 10+ years of following and writing about sports and lately also betting.