As Shubman Gill’s Men In Blue thrashed New Zealand in the third and decisive match in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, stand-in skipper Hardik Pandya led the Men In Blue to another T20I series victory. At Narendra Modi Stadium, Team India under Pandya crushed Mitchell Santner’s New Zealand by 168 runs in the series finale. Former Indian cricketer Mohammad Kaif praised Pandya’s leadership after India won the T20I series and commended the star all-rounder for supporting opener Gill in the just-finished match at Ahmedabad.

In the first two games of the three-game series between India and New Zealand, opener Gill had been out of form. Before picking up where he left off against New Zealand in the third T20I, the Indian opener had posted lackluster scores of 7 (6) and 11 (9) in his first two matches. As Pandya-led India managed to score a match-winning total in the series finale in Ahmedabad, Gill hammered his first century. Ex-cricketer Kaif praised the Indian captain and said that Pandya gave Gill a longer rope while Prithvi Shaw was waiting in the wings.

“The XI you will play is heavily influenced by the captain. When guys are sitting in the squad and your openers aren’t hitting, it might make you a little greedy, so (Prithvi) Shaw can certainly handle that role. There were several times when he made the proper choice. He continued to play the same team today. Ishan Kishan’s exit was for a different reason, but the choice was the right one. At the toss, he supported Shubman Gill and said he would bat “Kaif spoke with Star Sports.

As India scored 234-4 in 20 overs, Gill played a spectacular 126 off 63 balls. The great opener became the youngest Indian player to record a T20I century at the age of 23 years and 146 days. In the game’s shortest variant, Gill also holds the record for the highest score by an Indian. In 2023, against Sri Lanka, opener Gill played in his first T20I match at Wankhede Stadium. The 23-year-old has scored 202 runs for Team India in 6 T20Is.