Australia-bound Hardik Pandya enhanced his reputation as a big-hitter by smacking eight sixes in an unbeaten 86 to power Baroda to a six-wicket win over Vidarbha in the Group A cricket opener of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Super League in Mumbai on Friday.
The 46-ball pyrotechnics of the 22-year-old batsman, who has been picked in the Indian team for the T20 leg of the series in Australia that follows the ongoing ODI series Down Under, helped Baroda chase down their 163-run target in 19 overs at the Wankhede Stadium.
Hardik Pandya of Baroda celebrates his unbeaten 86 runs against Vidarbha at Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in Mumbai on Friday. Pic/PTI
Coming in one-down after Baroda lost opener Kedar Devdhar for 29 in the sixth over, the right-handed batsman, who had smacked 34 runs in one over in the side's last preliminary league phase game for a losing cause against Delhi in his home town, went hammer and tongs, especially after the 15th over when his team needed 63 off 30 balls.
He smashed three sixes in the first four balls of the 16th over bowled by left-arm spinner Ravi Jangid, and in the company of skipper Irfan Pathan (26 not out in 16 balls), and then two sixes and a four in the 19th over off seamer Ravi Thakur.
The winning hit by Pandya, who signalled his six-hitting prowess at this ground in the last IPL for Mumbai Indians, was a six over mid-wicket, a region he preferred to whack the bowlers to other than long on.
Pandya, who hit three fours and was also lucky to be let off on 25 at deep extra cover off Jangid, and the left-handed Irfan stitched together a partnership of 83 off just 37 balls to flatten Vidarbha's hopes after the latter had prised out Mrudal Devdhar and two other big-hitters - Deepak Hooda and Yusuf - in quick succession.
Earlier, Vidarbha rode on a half century from Ganesh Satish (54 off 31 balls with 2 sixes and 6 fours) and useful contributions from opener Jitesh Sharma (35) and Apoorva Wankhede (40 in 24 balls) to post 162 for five in 20 overs.
Left-arm spinner Swapnil Singh bagged two wickets, while Irfan and Atit Sheth picked up a wicket each.
Brief scores: Vidarbha 162/5 in 20 overs (Jitesh Sharma 35, Ganesh Satish 54, Apoorv Wankhede 40; Swapnil Singh 2-41)
lost to Baroda 168/4 in 19 overs (Hardik Pandya 86 not out, Irfan Pathan 26 not out; Ravi Jangid 2-36).
Points: Baroda 4, Vidarbha 0.