All-rounder Hardik Pandya has made the most of his return from injury in recent months, as captain leading Gujarat Titans to the IPL trophy in their first ever season, before being an integral part of India’s record-breaking comeback to level the series against South Africa at 2-2. One of the most impressive things about Hardik’s resurgence has been his emergence as a mature, high-quality middle-order batter with the ability to change gears in the death overs, where he can showcase the power-hitting he is renowned for. Moreover, his bowling is returning to its best after he had dropped some pace due to injury — the highlight being his performance of 3/17 in the IPL final.
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Former Indian wicketkeeper Kiran More, speaking to Sony Sports Network for their docuseries ‘Architects in White’, has revealed how Pandya’s development took place as a player since his earliest days as a cricketer. “Hardik Pandya started as a batsman leg-spinner from Baroda in my academy,” he said. “He was unplayable in the nets and a surprise for everyone. Who is this quick bowler, bowling at 135-140 kph – was the question on everyone’s mind.” More concluded by saying: “He was trying to bowl quicker and quicker.”
Pandya has taken 116 wickets for India across all formats, including 42 in T20Is. When he can bowl, he allows his captains an integral extra option as a pacer, contributing to the balance of a team which is in pursuit of a pace-bowling all-rounder to add an extra dimension with the ball. His dual ability as a batter who can both build innings and go from ball one makes him one of the most versatile players in India’s arsenal.
Pandya is being rewarded for his strong performances domestically and on the international stage with the captaincy of India’s T20I outfit as they tour Ireland. If he can maintain his quality of performances, he will become undroppable for coach Rahul Dravid, and one of the first names in their limited overs team sheets.
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