Ahmedabad: Ahead of his third and final T20I against India, New Zealand pacer Lockie Ferguson said that India skipper Hardik Pandya’s captaincy style is similar to that of Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson. India and New Zealand will square off in the final T20I of the series in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. The series is currently level at 1-1.
Ferguson played under the leadership of Pandya during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022, in which Gujarat Titans clinched the title in their debut season. While Ferguson has been traded to Kolkata Knight Riders ahead of IPL 2023, Hardik and Williamson will be playing together in the coming season of the cash-rich league.
“I hold him (Pandya) in very high regard. Certainly, from day one, playing underneath him at Gujarat, he is a clear leader within the group and demands the audience very quickly, but at the same time [he is] similar to Kane [Williamson] in the sense that he has time for everyone in the group. So, as you can see, he has done well with India and his body language with the group has been fantastic and I think he is an exceptional leader for the country. I certainly enjoyed my time playing underneath him,” said Lockie as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.
Lockie refused to admit that he is a “leader” of the inexperienced pace attack of Kiwis, currently having new players like Henry Shipley, Jacob Duffy and Blair Tickner. Trent Boult is currently participating in International League T20 (ILT20) in UAE while Tim Southee, the other veteran is resting ahead of home Tests against England. During the series against India, Lockie was often seen providing inputs to the young crop of Kiwi pacers from mid-on or mid-off.
“Look, even with Tim and Trent there, we sort of like to think of ourselves as a pack. So, we have leaders in it and at the same time, everyone’s voice is very much heard and a big thing for the young players coming through is that their voice needs to be heard too and they see the game and play the game differently. For sure, I have had a bit more experience here and naturally, sort of relaying that information to them is important,” said Lockie.
Ferguson heaped praises on Blair Tickner, who does not have a lot of wickets in India. In the second T20I, Tickner threatened to defend five runs in the last over on a sluggish Lucknow pitch, but Suryakumar’s icy composure guided India to a win with one ball to spare.
“Even Blair Tickner, he is come here and done exceptionally well and understood the conditions from an A series he played here. He has had experience and he has brought that into this series – both the ODIs and T20s – and he has offering a lot of good information and clarity. I think that is probably a huge positive for the Black Caps where everyone gets a say, and you know we are a collective trying to win the game and certainly, it’s nice to have some young bowlers coming through and getting that opportunity and experience,” said Lockie.
The way Ferguson led a young crop of pacers and the exposure to Indian conditions are key positives for Kiwis in this series as the cricket-crazy nation will host the ICC Cricket World Cup in October-November.
But the Kiwis currently want to seal a rare series win in India. Besides a one-off T20I in India, New Zealand has not won a bilateral series across any format in India.
“There is a lot of experience and learnings to take from a series and obviously the Indian side is playing so well in ODI cricket at the moment and T20 as well. So, certainly coming here and touring – I have been here many times before – but every time I come, I learn something new and it is something, as a group, we can review how this tour went and take learnings certainly through to the World Cup in six months’ time. But at this stage, it is very much a focus on tomorrow night. We are a team that sort of rolls game by game, series by series; so the focus is very much for tomorrow,” concluded Lockie.
With inputs from ANI