All eyes will be on Hardik Pandya as he gears up to lead India in the first T20I against Ireland in Dublin on Sunday. The past few months have not only witnessed a meteoric rise in his form but his leadership skills were also on display.
After parting ways with the Mumbai Indians, the all-rounder came into the IPL 2022 as the captain of a newly-introduced franchise, Gujarat Titans. To everyone’s surprise, he led them to their maiden title. As far as his performance is concerned, he scored 487 runs and ended the tournament as the fourth-highest run-getter. At the same time, he also pocketed 8 wickets and registered his best T20 bowling figures – 3/17 – in the final clash against Rajasthan Royals.
A stellar IPL season led to his comeback to the Indian dressing room for the South Africa series at home and now, he is all set to play the Ireland T20Is as a captain. Former India captain and selector Dilip Vengsarkar was impressed with Pandya’s dynamic return to the Indian setup.
In an interaction with news agency PTI, the Vengsarkar said, “The way he (Hardik) came back from injury is great. He must have worked very hard on his fitness. He did very well in the IPL and as a captain, he did well. (He is a) very fine all-rounder.”
“He led from the front. He guided the team in his first major tournament as captain (of Gujarat Titans). An all-rounder plays an important role in any team,” he added.
Vengsarkar, who selected Virat Kohli for the first time in the national team, backed the former skipper, who has been enduring a prolonged lean patch, to come good against England.
“I am sure because he (Kohli) is a world-class player. He’s done well and is so fit. He is just not scoring in the T20s but I think he’ll come back strong, especially in the Test in England. He and Rohit Sharma, I expect big runs in England,” said Vengsarkar.
India will play two T20Is against Ireland before the tour of England begins on July 1. Since the senior players are currently in the UK, the team Ireland is being led by Pandya while former India batter VVS Laxman has joined the team as the head coach.
(With PTI Inputs)
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