Hardik Pandya has emulated Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s signature helicopter shot several times and the Mumbai Indians all-rounder says the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman likes his version of the innovative stroke.
Pandya has looked in ominous form this Indian Premier League season, scoring 218 runs at a strike rate of 194.64 in nine matches. He used the shot to good effect against speedster Kagiso Rabada in Mumbai’s game against Delhi Capital on Thursday.
The 25-year-old smashed 32 off 15 balls to power Mumbai Indians to 168 for five, a total which Delhi Capitals found too stiff to chase, going down by 40 runs.
Pandya’s inning comprised two boundaries and three massive sixes, including the helicopter shot – a stroke made famous by Dhoni. It was in the second ball of the 20th over when he had played that shot, sending a Rabada delivery across the ropes between long-on and deep mid-wicket position.
The all-rounder had played the helicopter shot in front of Dhoni during an earlier game against Chennai Super Kings, which Mumbai won by 37 runs at the Wankhede.
“I never thought I would play the helicopter shot in a game. I’ve been practicing that in the nets. I went to Dhoni’s room and asked him if he liked my version of the helicopter shot. He said it was good,” said Pandya.
Adjudged Player of the Match for his crucial innings on Thursday, Pandya said he has been hitting the ball well of late.
“Even I was telling myself that I don’t think I’ve ever hit the ball better. I have been working hard in the nets and it has been coming off well for me,” he said.
“I like to keep the basics straight, even in the death overs if you keep your shape and wait for bowlers to miss their mark, you can hit hard. I am using my brain well, reading the wicket well this season. I have five more games to go and then the playoffs, and I hope to keep going like this.”