South Africa’s go-to man in pressure situations, David Miller believes that as captain Hardik Pandya can infuse much needed fearlessness into India’s T20 set-up with his exemplary clarity of mind and work ethic. Hardik is seen as the leader of the Indian team at the 2024 T20 World Cup with current skipper Rohit Sharma not expected to carry on in the shortest format for another two years.
Miller, who has finally realised his rich potential and became one of the best finishers in the game over the last couple of years, said Hardik had played a crucial role in steering Gujarat Titans to the title on its IPL (Indian Premier League) debut.
“Just playing under him in the IPL, I feel he is a natural leader. People follow him. He allows you to play the way that you feel like you can. He is very inclusive as a leader, he wants everyone to be close to each other,” the South African said.
“At the same time, he is clear with discipline. He has got a lot of good attributes of a leader. In IPL, he got better and better as the season progressed and I see him doing that (with the Indian team as well),” Miller told PTI on the sidelines of Abu Dhabi T10 League.
“He will make the players a lot better in the mindset. Hundred percent. He allows the guys to do what they want to do which is important,” said Miller, who was on Thursday named vice-captain of US-based T10 franchise Morrisville Samp Army.
On South Africa’s shock T20 World Cup exit
Miller spent a lot of time thinking about South Africa’s sudden elimination from the T20 World Cup in Australia.
Having beaten India in its group match, South Africa was looking strong but an unexpected loss to the Netherlands ended in another heartbreak for the perennial underachiever in international cricket.
“Yes I did (reflect on the loss). Sometimes it is difficult to process things like that. At end of the day, I still feel we were one of the stronger teams in the competition. There were many other upsets as well, it was not only us. It comes down to the last game and unfortunately for us, we needed to win and we couldn’t. That is the beauty and humility of cricket. Obviously very disappointed with that result,” he said.
South Africa had hope against the Netherlands in the run chase as long as Miller was around but he fell to a stunning catch from Roelof van de Merwe, who once played for the Proteas.
“I was hoping he would drop it. I was looking at the ball every second and it was coming up and down in the air and he managed to take a great catch. It is disappointing to finish like that but also the joys of World Cup,” Miller said.
“You see different teams coming in and minor teams competing against major teams.”
No target is insurmountable when Miller is in the middle. However, he has only built that reputation in the last couple of years, having made his international debut way back in 2010.
Miller made a lot of mistakes along the way but managed to learn from them, resulting in remarkable consistency.
“I have been playing for a long time now, I don’t want to say I know it all because I don’t at all. Still lots to learn but I have been playing professional cricket for 14 years (including First-Class debut). I have made a lot of mistakes in my life in my journey of cricket. If you are not learning from mistakes you are not getting better. I am trying to implement that especially in pressure situations. When the pressure is there you are obviously making more mistakes,” he said.
“But if you have the experience of playing in pressure you tend to think a lot clearer about requirement of the team and what you need to do and are not irrational. The way I think and the confidence that I have, I feel I can finish a game from any situation. That is probably the reason for consistency,” Miller said.
On the T10 format, he added, “It is short, it is sharp, it is fast and it is exciting. You can play quite a few games in one day. It is more exciting than T20 in a sense that it is quicker. It has its challenges as well like every other format.”