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IPL heroics boost Pandya's confidence ahead of World Cup

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By Reuters
IPL heroics boost Pandya's confidence ahead of World Cup
Cricket - India Nets - Edgbaston, Birmingham, Britain - July 30, 2018 India's Hardik Pandya during nets Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers   -   Copyright  ANDREW BOYERS(Reuters)

(Reuters) – India all-rounder Hardik Pandya is looking to gain confidence from his match-winning performances in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) ahead of the 50-over World Cup, the 25-year-old has said.

Pandya, who missed India’s limited overs home series against Australia in February and March with a lower back injury, returned for the Mumbai Indians’ IPL campaign and has averaged 46.50 in eight matches so far, remaining not out four times.

The 25-year-old was named in India’s 15-man World Cup squad on Monday as the team’s first choice all-rounder in the showpiece event in England and Wales.

“It’s pretty important to have confidence, the World Cup is a big stage and this is the first time I’m playing,” Pandya told reporters after helping Mumbai beat visitors Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday.

“I was out of the game for some time… Everyone has setbacks and I wanted to improve, I got some time for my body as well. The time I spent out (of the game) is helping me right now because I’m in a good mind space.”

Needing 172 to beat Bangalore, Pandya walked in at 129-4 and smashed 37 not out off 16 balls to give Mumbai their fifth win of the season.

“For me it was important to keep hitting the ball well,” he said. “I’ve been doing this (finishing games) for four years now. That’s my role in any team I play for.

“It’s all about playing according to the situation, if you’re smart enough you will get the result you desire.”

Pandya said he hoped the pitches in England had not changed since their 2017 Champions Trophy campaign when India finished as runners-up. He averaged 52.50 with the bat in that tournament with a strike rate close to 200.

“The last time we went to England a lot of people said it would be cold with swinging conditions but when we went there… I’ve never played on flat wickets like that before,” Pandya said.

“Depending on the conditions, and if we have the same situation like we did in the Champions Trophy, then it will be helpful.”

India begin their bid for a third World Cup title against South Africa in Southampton on June 5.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)