What’s the story?
Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly has urged captain Virat Kohli and coach Anil Kumble to offer opportunities to Hardik Pandya in all three formats of the game. The 44-year old also implored the team management to convert the seam bowling all rounder’s enormous potential into sustained excellence in the coming years.
“Hardik is the most improved player this year. Among all the youngsters, he has been the best. Pandya won two games on his own and emerged as the most valuable player. Pandya has improved 40 percent (as a) player from what he was in the ICC World T20 last year. If Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli are following his game, I would suggest that they play him in all three formats”, Ganguly told India Today.
The veteran added, “The talent is there but you need to use brains to transform that talent which Jacques Kallis did. Pandya can bowl around 140 kilometers per hour and he has a good batting technique. It's up to to him and the team management to convert that into consistency.”
In a country starved of proper seam bowling all rounders during recent times, Pandya’s rise has been a breath of fresh air. Having made his international debut last year, the 23-year old has played 7 ODIs and 17 T20Is in his career thus far.
The heart of the matter
Aside from being able to clock considerable pace with the ball, Pandya also doubles up as a hard-hitter lower down the order. His finest moment until now has been the euphoric final over in the group match against Bangladesh in last year’s World T20 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. He picked up a couple of wickets and defended just ten runs in the last over.
Since that game, Pandya’s stocks have continued to rise. He was given the new ball for the vast majority of ODIs in India’s recently completed home season. Even though he received his maiden call-up to the Test squad, the all rounder was not able to break into the playing eleven.
However, coach Anil Kumble reiterated that he will get opportunities in the longest format when the team steps outside the subcontinent.
Pandya has made a solid start to this IPL season. His 11-ball 29 was instrumental in leading Mumbai Indians to a thrilling last ball victory against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Wankhede Stadium last Sunday. He will hoping to continue his form in Mumbai’s away clash against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday.
Considering the fact that he belongs to the rare breed of pace bowling all rounders, Pandya’s skill set could become vital to India’s fortunes in their tours outside Asia. If he gets selected, the 2017 Champions Trophy will offer him a chance to showcase his ability in both departments of the game.