Can Hardik Pandya become the next Kapil Dev for India?

A genuine all rounder was elusive in Indian team.

At the start of the play in Dharamsala, legendary all rounder Kapil Dev gave debutant Hardik Pandya his first ODI cap, a new custom. Later, while commentating, Kapil Dev rued lack of all rounder in India. He wondered why despite IPL and other T20 tournaments, India was not able to produce a quality all rounder. By the end of the match, all rounder Hardik Pandya had got a man of the match on his debut in ODIs. Is Pandya the answer to Kapil Dev’s question?

Not only Kapil Dev, selectors have been fretting over the same question. Many of Indian bowlers can bat. Many batsmen can bowl a few overs a match. But, a genuine all rounder was elusive. Hardik Pandya seemed to be an option. Pandya starred in IPL when he scored a quick fire 61 of 31 balls for Mumbai Indians. He was running in and bowling quick deliveries. He was picked up for India’s T20 side against Australia.

Hardik Pandya showed promise but couldn’t capitalise on his abilities as he played T20s. He made a few blistering knocks, took a few wickets here and there. But, largely he failed to impress. He was bowling short deliveries with a few surprise deliveries that got the batsmen out. His economy rate was touching 9. He was turning out to be an all rounder, who can bat and ball but not being specialist in neither. However, his ODI debut saw a different Hardik Pandya.

When New Zealand came out to bat in Dharamsala, they were up against an inexperienced bowling attack. But, Pandya came up with a surprising spell. He was bowling constantly at a speed around 140 kmph. He was hitting the deck hard, generating good bounce. He was moving the bowl both in air and of the pitch. But, the most important aspect of his bowling that changed over time was his length. Unlike, in the past, Hardik Pandya was bowling up. He was bowling just short of good length. At his pace and Dharamsala bounce, it troubled batsmen. This resulted in him taking three wickets and becoming the man of the match.

Pandya has not got a chance to showcase his batting talent in the first ODI. But, we know his batting prowess. He is in central plan of Indian team management. Captain MS Dhoni revealed this in the post match conference.

“We wanted to give him a go with the new ball. We just have 8 games before Champions Trophy. So we would like to see how he (Pandya) reacts under different conditions and situations. How quickly he can adapt to the conditions. If he keeps on performing like what he did today I don’t see why we won’t pick him as the first of the three fast bowlers,” PTI quoted the skipper.

This comment clearly shows how serious the Indian team management is taking him. The captain and the management clearly see a big potential in him. All that Hardik Pandya needs is to believe in his abilities to be the next Kapil Dev India never had.

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