Hardik Pandya interacting with KL Rahul after the third T20I between India and West Indies. (Screengrab/BCCI.TV)
India may have won the home series against Bangladesh and now the T20 series against West Indies, but key members of the squad all-rounder Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah have been out of action for a while. While Bumrah was not present at the Wankhede stadium Wednesday for the third T20I against West Indies, Pandya was spotted cheering for his teammates from the stands. And teammate Rahul said the team is awaiting his return.
After the contest, Hardik spoke with opener KL Rahul, who smashed 91 off just 56 deliveries and eventually helped India in securing a 67-run win. During the interaction, Rahul said Pandya was his 'best friend' and hoped that the all-rounder would recover quickly since the dressing room felt empty without him.
"We are waiting for you (Hardik) to come back quickly as the dressing room feels empty without you at least for me, don't know about the rest of the team," Rahul said.
He also said that seeing Pandya cheering from the stands inspired him. "I saw you (Hardik) sitting in the stands and I got inspired. My best friend sitting in the stands and cheering and your face cheered me up," he said in the interaction organised by the Indian cricket board.
Rahul also said that opening with Rohit Sharma takes the pressure off him as opponents are often only concerned about his partner.
"I enjoy opening the batting with Rohit, makes things a lot easier as the opposition are always worried about Rohit and I get freebies and that's all a batsman wants," he said.
Pandya is presently recovering from a back surgery he underwent recently.
Rahul and Pandya were suspended after they appeared in a controversial episode of Koffee with Karan earlier this year. The duo were directed by the BCCI ombudsman to make a donation Rs 20 lakh each to an organisation that supports widows of constables in paramilitary forces and a fund to promote cricket for the blind.