'Shepherd won it for us,' says Hardik Pandya

'Shepherd won it for us,' says Hardik Pandya

Mumbai: Finally not heckled and booed by fans in an Indian Premier League 2024 match, Mumbai Indians skipper Hardik Pandya singled out brilliant power-hitting by Romario Shepherd for special praise and said the West Indies all-rounder, who blasted 32 runs in the final over, won them the match against Delhi Capitals on Sunday.

Bolstered by Shepherd's 10-ball 39, Mumbai Indians posted 234/5 in 20 overs and then came back to restrict Delhi Capitals to 205/8 and won the match by 29 runs at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday.

Pandya was booed and heckled by fans after the franchise surprised everyone by dethroning Rohit Sharma as captain and installing Pandya, who has moved from Gujarat Titans to MI, as the skipper. They did not help themselves with some poor cricket in the first three matches too.

But on Sunday, things fell into place for Mumbai Indians and Pandya and the skipper said he would

After making a brisk start through Rohit Sharma (49) and Ishan Kishan (42), Mumbai Indians were pegged back by Delhi Capitals before Shepherd ended the innings in a flourish by hammering four sixes and two fours off the final over.

"That was some hitting from Romario, he won us the game. The difference was his innings. I like him, he always has a smile on his face, doesn't run away, very proud of the way he played, proud of the team," said Pandya after the match praising Shepherd, the 29-year-old West Indies all-rounder who was brought into the squad on Sunday in place of South African pacer Kwena Maphaka.

Pandya said he would like to enjoy the winning feeling more often than not and said everything fell in place for his team on Sunday. "I would like to have this feeling [of being a winning captain) more often than not. Lot of hard work, hard to clear our minds, and everything clicked," he said. Pandya also said that MI have identified the nucleus of their playing XI. Though there will be a few changes once in a while, this will be their XI, he said, adding that they backed themselves despite losing three games as they felt one win would put them back on the rails.

"We will be making some tactical changes here and there but more often than not this will be our XI. Settling of the team is important. There was a lot of love and care going around, everyone knows we lost three games but the belief and backing were there, everyone believed we needed just one win and today was the start," said Pandya. He also pointed at the superb start provided by Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan and said the way everyone chipped in was fantastic.

"I mean amazing, to start with 77 after six is always wonderful. The way everyone was batting, we needed rhythm to bat, the way everyone is chipping in with the opportunity coming in was fantastic," he added. Pandya said he did not bowl on Sunday because he had things covered and under control. "All good, will be bowling at the right time. Had it covered, so didn't need to roll my arm over," he said.