Hardik Pandya: 'We needed just one win, and today is just the start'

The Mumbai Indians captain said there was no issue with his fitness even though he did not bowl against Delhi Capitals

Hardik Pandya and Rohit Sharma celebrate Mumbai Indians' first win of the season, Mumbai Indians vs Delhi Capitals, IPL 2024, Mumbai, April 7, 2024

Hardik Pandya and Rohit Sharma celebrate Mumbai Indians' first win of the season  •  BCCI

"Clearing a lot of minds", handling players with "love and care", along with the belief that they could bounce back, helped Mumbai Indians end their run of three successive losses in IPL 2024.
After beating Delhi Capitals by 29 runs at the Wankhede Stadium, Hardik Pandya and the Mumbai squad gave the crowd, a majority of them schoolchildren, a lap of honour to acknowledge their support.
"It was a lot of hard work," Hardik said after the game. "We cleared a lot of minds, made sure our plans are right, the intent is right, and today was one of the days where everything clicked. There has been a lot of love and care going around. Everyone knows we lost three games, but the belief and attitude of backing each other was there, which has been fantastic. We needed just one win, and today is just the start."
Hardik said the team finally had a settled look to it. On Sunday, they welcomed Suryakumar Yadav back into the XI after he missed the start of the season because he was recovering from injury. While his innings lasted only two deliveries, the start Mumbai made in the powerplay through Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan - 75 for 0 in six overs - helped lay the foundation for 234 for 5, their third-highest total.
"It was amazing," Hardik said of the powerplay onslaught. "To get 77 or 80 after six was wonderful. The way everyone is batting, we needed to find the rhythm to bat. The way everyone's chipping in with their opportunities coming was fantastic."
Kishan, who made 42 from 23 balls and added 80 with Rohit in seven overs, said it was a conscious decision to attack in the powerplay.
"We've played enough games here; we know how the wicket plays," he said. "Because it's not easy after six overs when the fielders go back. It's more of a rotation game [after six overs] and choosing the right balls [to hit]. We both felt that powerplay was really important time for both of us, where we can take the bowlers on and that's what our plan was. And we think we executed in a very good way."
Rishabh Pant, the Capitals captain, was not happy with his team's powerplay approach. Delhi scored 46 for 1 in the first six overs in a chase of 235.
"Definitely we were in contention, but I feel we didn't have enough runs during the powerplay," Pant said. "Especially on a flat wicket like that, yes, we tried to chase it afterwards. But when the pressure mounts on you and the required run rate goes over 14-15, it's very difficult to do that for 10-15 overs."
Capitals got past 200 after Shaw made 66 off 40 and Tristan Stubbs clobbered 71 off 25 but the asking rate had got too high by the end.
That Capitals were chasing so much was down to West Indian allrounder Romario Shepherd's cameo. He came into bat at the fall of Hardik's wicket in the 18th over and hit 32 off his 39 runs in the last over off Anrich Nortje. The stunning sequence read 4, 6, 6, 6, 4, 6.
"Some hitting, nah? The way he came in and won us the game, amazing," Hark said. "The difference between us and Delhi Capitals was Romario. The way he batted, I like him. He always has a smile on his face, doesn't run away, and has been in the circuit for quite long. I'm proud of the way he played."
Shepherd also contributed with the ball by dismissing David Warner in the fourth over of the chase. Hardik didn't bowl but put any concerns over his fitness to rest.
"All good [with me]," Hardik said. "I will be bowling at the right time. We kind of had everything covered today, so I didn't need to roll my arm over."