IND v SA T20I: “He should have taken a single in that final over” – Ashish Nehra opines on Hardik Pandya denying to allow Dinesh Karthik a strike

India’s Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik made their international comeback in the first T20I of the five-match series against South Africa in Delhi on Thursday.

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Despite the absence of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, and KL Rahul, India chose a formidable playing XI for the series opener, led by captain Rishabh Pant. Ishan Kishan and Ruturaj Gaikwad got India off to a great start with a 57-run partnership for the first wicket, before Pant, Shreyas Iyer, and Hardik Pandya all contributed to India’s 211-run total.

During the 20th over of the first T20I match at Arun Jaitley stadium on Thursday, facing Anrich Nortje, Hardik Pandya steered a full-length delivery from Nortje to deep mid-wicket on the fifth ball. A single was readily available, but Hardik declined, leaving Dinesh Karthik on the other end looking unhappy. The incident quickly became a hot topic on social media, with followers criticising Hardik for his actions.

“He should have taken a single in that final over. Dinesh Karthik was at the other end, it wasn’t me.” Ashish Nehra , Gujarat Titans’ coach commented humorously on Cricbuzz.

Pandya, who is 28 years old, struck two runs on the final ball of the innings to bring India’s total to 211.

On the other end, it was Karthik, the Indian Premier League 2022 finisher with the highest strike rate. Indians fans were quick to criticise Pandya on social media for his behaviour in the last over. Because he was playing for India almost three years later, many people wanted to see the wicketkeeper finish the game yesterday.

However, South Africa chased down the target with five balls remaining, with to David Miller’s magnificent unbeaten 64 (off 31 balls) and Rassie van der Dussen’s 75* (off 46 balls).