Hardik Pandya… A Genuine All-rounder in the making for India

Way back in the 1980’s and early 90’s. The Indian cricket team savoured the invaluable services of a legendary cricketer by the name Kapil Dev. This dashing and devastating all-rounder from Haryana had all those abilities to make him the best all-rounder of India till date, and one of the best of all time globally.

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His appealing stats speak for themselves; he scored 3783 runs with an average of 23.08 and strike rate of 95, way ahead of his generation, not to forget his 175 not out of just 138 balls (16 fours and 6 runs), the highest individual score in the world cups till then until 1996, when it was finally broken by Gary Kirsten in 1996 with his score of 188 against UAE, this splendid knock of the skipper leading from the front took India to the finals, eventually winning the world cup itself, practically speaking Kapil Dev was the only one of his kind for India, if not for the whole world, and one of the best in the world in what he did. Thereafter never did India get to see another such asset, although guys like Robin Singh, Ajit Agarkar, and Sanjay Bangar have all come, done a bit and gone. The best among all is Irfan Pathan, who was not only the more promising than these above mentioned candidates  but also delivered the most, but never came closer in comparison to the former captain. As we grew up watching the sport in the 90’s and 2000’s, as the fans of Indian cricket, we would always envy the teams like South Africa and Australia, which had at least one such all-rounder with them, and we dreamt of  having one such Jack Kallis or  a Andrew Flintoff would be instrumental in winning games for us. India always strived to find the next Kapil Dev but whether it was the management’s inability to explore one or the lack in the domestic levels to produce one. But as it is truly better late than never, it seems that India has eventually managed to find one, in the form of Hardik Pandya, the latest sensation in Indian cricket. This gujarathi lad made his debut in t-20, in Jan 2016 and has been the most propelling aspect in the shortest format of the game, his last over heroics with the ball, in the finals of the  Asia cup played in India in the same year, led to pull off a thriller, out of nowhere.  He has collected as many as 23 wickets in 27 matches, with an average of 23.83 and has played 32 matches in the 50-over format, for his tally of 602 runs, with an average of 33.44, pretty impressive for a lower middle order batsmen, his knock of 76 off 43 balls in a losing effort in the finals of the 2017 champions trophy against Pakistan, spoke about the heart he has to deliver the best for his team, every time he is around, also his knock of 83 off 66 balls against Australia in an ODI in 2017, and 2 for 28 with the bowl, another innings of 78 later in the series, give some hint in order to compare him to Kapil, if not for his stats until now, at the least his impact on the sport justifies his weightage in this comparison.

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As far as the longest format is concerned, Kapil Dev captured 434 wickets from 227 innings, most for any Indian fast bowler and has managed to score 5248 runs with 31.05 average, which is good enough for a lower middle order batsmen, at an astonishing strike rate of 94.76, during the days when test batting was more of sticking on to the middle, rather than scoring runs. In this context, Hardik has nothing much to be compared about, a part from his 4 matches, 271 runs, average of 67.75 and strike rate of 104.23, and 7 wickets, at an average of 25 as he is just a beginner in tests, but the effect he has produced behind his performances and the promise, which his potentials bring to the table are immense. The body language, the grit, the determination and the passion, behind this individual exhibits are evidences to believe that he is the next big thing. Any medium pace bowler with varieties of swing and bounce can do magic for his team, while playing the game away from home, especially in the big 4 test cricket nations, viz. Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand. Such an influence comes along if a side has one like Hardik Pandya who can produce a few spells here and there, in a test series and win matches. This accompanied by some credible qualities like scoring runs on any field, building partnerships for the team, thus ensuring , that you contribute comes into reality with this sensation from Mumbai Indians. Therefore such was the thirst, which India had for more than 2 decades now, since Kapil retired in 1994.

Authors’ final say: Well, the time itself will show if it really works this way for Hardik Pandya and whether he will go on to establish himself as one of the legendary cricketers form India. But the quest of possessing a medium pace all-rounder, that India had been longing to satisfy for over 20 years now, is coming to fruition in the form of Hardik Pandya. India can for sure cherish this valuable seed and nurture him, to eventually produce a harvest of a life time. We can now realistically dream of another 50 over world cup and a t-20 world cup, in the nearest future of say 5-6 years. Thus with the likes of promising current generation players like Sharma, Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli, Ashwin, Kumar and Jadeja to name a few and the next generation youth in the form of Rahul, Nair, Iyer, Chahal, Kuldeep, Bumrah and the centre of attraction of this blog; Hardik Pandya, it is just a matter of time, that we get to witness, this Indian cricket team (with an average age of  its players being 27-28, majority of them under the age of 30 years, with a potential of  playing the sport collaboratively for at least 7-8 years) established as one of the best ever cricket teams across all formats.

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