Krunal Pandya says, “After Brisbane thrashing I had to convince myself I belong here.”

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He went for big runs in the opener but came back strongly to help India level the series against Australia here Sunday and all-rounder Krunal Pandya said it was difficult to convince himself he belongs to the big stage after the thrashing in Brisbane.

Krunal said that he was down and out after a poor showing in the first T20 and needed to set the record straight for a consistent showing at the international level.

Krunal registered career-best figures of 4-36 as he helped India beat Australia by six wickets in the final T20 match to level the three-match series 1-1.

“It is very difficult when you play your first game in Australia and you get hammered for 53 from 4 overs. To come out of that was not easy. It took me a while to back myself much more, especially when you have hardly played any game at this level,” he said at the post-match press conference.

“Giving away 50-plus runs in Brisbane was very tough for me and the next 24 hours were tough. I had to convince myself again. Whatever anyone says, it takes some time to set in. When I played the second game (in Melbourne), I was very clear with my plans what I have to do,” Krunal said.

“When you come back like this, it is very satisfying. You had such a bad day and then against the same opponent you do well, it gives satisfaction, happiness and a surety that you belong to this level. You haven’t played at this level and then you perform like this it gives you hope that you can play at this level.”

Krunal said for any newcomer it was important to keep calm and be patient, especially in the shortest format of the game.

“I was happy to overcome that because when you overcome such hurdles you are able to do well. Those were two drastic results for me,” he said.

“As a bowler you have to understand this is T20 format, and it is part and parcel of game. One day you will get hit and one day you will get wickets.”

The left-arm spinner said the T20 series was a competitive one and had it not been for the washed out game in Melbourne, India could have won the rubber.

“We came here to win the series. The first game was very close. Second game was washed out, otherwise we could have won as 140 on that wicket was not that tough.

“It shows the team’s character because this match was very important and it was important to level the series here. This team is known for its character. When the chips are down you give your 100 per cent,” he said.

Following in the footsteps of his younger brother Hardik, Krunal made his international debut at home soil against the West Indies.

Despite putting up consistent performances in the Indian Premier League, Krunal had to wait for his chance at the international level and he said he wanted to make the opportunities count when it comes.

“Hardik and I don’t talk much about cricket. He was joking and laughing that I went for so many runs. I also joke when he plays poorly. That’s all we talk about cricket,” he said.

“I had to wait for my opportunities, but I was quite confident and I was preparing myself accordingly. Whenever I get an opportunity I will grab it with both hands. I have played against the West Indies and this is the second one. I think it is a long journey and I want to play every game focussing on process rather than thinking about results,” he added.

He also credited his bowling partnership with chinaman Kuldeep Yadav that helped him to prosper here.

“Kuldeep helped quite a bit. He has played a lot of games and in this series he has bowled really well. For me it becomes easier when your spin partner is bowling really well and you can share ideas. Every game he gave me some tips,” Krunal said.

“Thus, a lot of credit goes to Kuldeep for creating pressure at the other end. It helped me to get those wickets.”

Chasing 165, India made a quick start but lost their way in the middle overs before skipper Virat Kohli steadied the ship with an unbeaten 61.

And Krunal said as long as Kohli was at the crease, the visitors were confident of chasing the target.

“It got a bit tricky in the middle. The way we started we didn’t think it would go this close. Virat (Kohli) has done it a number of times. This kind of innings he has played, he has taken the team from this position,” he said.

“Dinesh Karthik was also there, I was there, plenty of others as well. So the self-belief was there but having Virat in the middle is something different.

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