Crediting Hardik Pandya for his meteoric rise in international cricket, former India skipper Rahul Dravid, on Wednesday (December 27), said the all-rounder is making the most of the scarcity of fast-bowling all-rounders in Indian cricket.
Within a year of making his ODI debut, Pandya has become an indispensable part of the team across formats. In July, he made an unexpected debut in Tests and went on to prove his detractors wrong by slamming a quickfire fifty in his maiden Test appearance. Two matches later, he announced his arrival at the highest stage of the game with a stunning 96-ball 108 runs knock including eight fours and seven sixes to bag his maiden Man of the Match award in Tests.
Before the Test series in Sri Lanka, he had impressed with his explosive batting in the Champions Trophy final, slamming 76 off just 43 balls with the help of four fours and six sixes. In the ODI series against Australia, he won the Man of the Series award for his consistent performances and is now being tipped by many to end India’s long wait for a pace-bowling allrounder.
“Hardik came into the team because of himself. He is the one who has put in the performances, and he is the one who has that x-factor. When you are a fast bowling all-rounder in India, there aren’t many to compete with, and that’s the reality,” Dravid told reporters at the pre-departure press conference for the Under-19 World Cup team.
“If you are a batsman or a spin bowler in the country, it’s tough because there are a lot of people you compete with. But fast bowling all-rounders, you can count on fingers of one hand, how many fast bowling all-rounders are playing in India,” he added.
Pandya had made his T20I debut in January last year but was dropped soon after failing to deliver. His fortunes, however, changed when he played under Dravid’s coaching during India A’s tour of Australia.
“Hardik got that opportunity when Vijay got injured and didn’t come to Australia, and he (Hardik) grabbed it with both hands. He bowled quick and batted beautifully, in a particularly Test match, when were 40-6 and got 70, and credit to it he has grabbed it,” Dravid said.
“So sometimes you know, sometimes it can happen with certain roles and specifics that people do get fast-tracked because the opportunity exists,” the batting legend added.
Pandya has already played 32 ODIs, 27 T20Is and three Tests and will be looking to elevate his stature further when India takes on South Africa in the upcoming full-fledged series.
Video of the day: