File photo of Graeme Smith© AFP
The five-match T20I series between India and South Africa ended in a 2-2 stalemate after the series decider in Bengaluru was abandoned due to rain. Only 3.3 overs were possible in the game, in which India posted 28/2 with Ishan Kishan and Ruturaj Gaikwad back in the hut. A day after the series ended, former South Africa skipper Graeme Smith highlighted the biggest positives for Team India and he was full of praise for Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya.
Smith also labelled Hardik as the “X-factor” all-rounder that India require to bring balance to the team. In the series, Hardik Pandya registered 117 runs. However, with the ball in hand, he was not able to take a single wicket.
On the other hand, the 37-year-old Dinesh Karthik returned with 92 runs, out of which 55 came in the fourth T20I in Rajkot.
“Still a lot of cricket is to be played so it is difficult to predict what is going to happen in the next couple of months but you would think that Hardik Pandya and DK are integral to that squad. DK is experienced with that finishing role that he has played. Hardik has grown leaps and bounds and is in control of his game,” Smith said on the YouTube channel of Cricket.com.
“Mentally he looks like he has settled. He knows how to go about his work and he is also that all-rounder X-Factor that India require to just balance the team with him and Jadeja in the squad which opens up a lot of options, with those two all-rounders. So, I can’t see that those two not making it to the 15 (World Cup squad)” he added.
Hardik will next be leading Team India in the upcoming two-match T20I series against Ireland, beginning June 26. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will serve as his deputy for the series.
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