Watch: Hardik Pandya gets hit for boundary, then cleans up Afghan batter next ball to unleash aggressive celebration
In the India vs. Afghanistan World Cup 2023 mZatch, Hardik Pandya cleanly dismissed Azmatullah Omarzai with a fantastic slower delivery.
Hardik Pandya had a lacklustre day with the ball in India's World Cup 2023 opener against Australia, primarily because of an injury to his middle finger on his bowling hand. However, he bounced back strongly in the second match, against Afghanistan, at the Arun Jaitely Stadium in New Delhi. Early in his tenure against Australia, Hardik injured his hand trying to stop a boundary off his own bowling. He was unable to bowl more overs because of that. Throughout the course of his three overs, he gave up 28 runs.
But things weren't the same on Wednesday. Prior to the game, Hardik informed the commentators that while his finger ached a little bit, it was far better than it had been on Sunday. He also expressed excitement about improving his performance with the ball. Thus, he acted.
Hardik, who was bowling during the powerplay, first claimed the crucial wicket of a well-positioned Rahmanullah Gurbaz (21) with a well-placed bouncer. Gurbaz was caught off guard. Shardul Thakur made a wonderful grab and holed out in fine leg after the right-hander lost control of his draw shot. India made a breakthrough at the right time, while Afghanistan was only trying to gain independence.
It was the second half of the Afghanistan innings that Hardik saved his best for. When Hardik produced an unbelievable delivery to tie the score, India was within striking distance of the Afghan duo of Azmatullah Omarzai and Hashmatullah Shahidi, who were threatening to pull India out of the match.
When Hardik entered the bowling attack, Afghanistan was 180 for 4 in 34 overs. Azmatulah clipped the pads of his first delivery, which was travelling at 144 km/h, for a boundary. Returning, the all-rounder from India hit a well-concealed slower blow that pitched around the off stump, retained its course and ultimately struck the stump's top.
The shift in pace between the two deliveries really caught Azhamtullah off guard, who had been playing so well up until that point. After making 62 off 69 balls and breaking the 121-run partnership for the fourth wicket, he was forced to go back.
The manner the all-rounder from India celebrated the wicket might tell you a lot about its significance to both Hardik and India. To show the world that he was back to his best as a medium pacer, he clenched his fists and gave two loud roars.
That was Hardik's 30th birthday, which added to the occasion's specialness. In his seven overs, he finished with figures of 43 for 2.
Afghanistan appeared to be in a good position to reach 300 at one point in the match, but Hardik's wicket put an end to that. India rallied strongly, spearheaded by pace maestro Jasprit Bumrah, who stood out with his best World Cup bowling numbers of 4-39. Afghanistan chose to bat first and finished with 272/8.