Hardik Pandya dropping a sitter in the third and final ODI against England left skipper Virat Kohli and Indian dugout shell-shocked on Sunday. During England’s chase, an in-form Stokes was dropped by Hardik who was standing at mid-off.
The incident happened in the 5th over bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Stokes, in an attempt to play the check drive, lobbed it towards the left of mid-on. Hardik covered the ground but the ball somehow popped out of his hands, giving Stokes a crucial lifeline.
Many players including skipper Virat Kohli and vice-captain Rohit Sharma were shocked after the dropped catch. The Indian dugout comprising bowling coach Bharat Arun, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj was also in disbelief.
Stokes was eventually dismissed by T Natarajan in the 11th over. The England all-rounder ended up hitting a full-toss delivery straight into the hands of Shikhar Dhawan at deep mid-wicket. A relieved Hardik was spotted thanking Dhawan while Stokes walked back to the dugout.
Earlier, Hardik scored 64 off 44 balls and Rishabh Pant hit a quick-fire 78 to take India to over 350 in their 50 overs. “At one point, we thought of 360 but Rishabh and I got out at the wrong time, otherwise, it would have been a different story,” Hardik said after the end of Indian innings.
“I am not disappointed at missing out on the hundred. If Rishabh and Ia would have batted [on], it would have been different. At one point, we were looking at 360. We didn’t get what we expected for the team,” he added.
“It was just simple cricket, we backed ourselves and we have done it many times. We would have liked a few runs.” The series is level at 1-1 and the winner in the third ODI will clinch the three-match series.