From one all-rounder to another; Kapil Dev is astonished by Hardik Pandya’s form in the recent past that has led the 1983 World Cup-winning captain to opine that Pandya could be tried at the number four in India’s T20 team.
Hardik Pandya is in sensational form since his return to professional cricket from an injury. Playing for Mumbai Indians in the IPL he averaged 35 and had a strike rate of 178- the third-best in the tournament behind Kieron Pollard and Jofra Archer.
The right-hander carried his rich vein of runs to international cricket against Australia. He was India’s highest-run scorer in the ODI series – Man of the Match in the third ODI – and also the Man of the series in the T20Is.
Hardik Pandya can give the team momentum in the middle-order: Kapil Dev
The main thinking behind Kapil Dev, suggesting that Pandya can be tried at number 4 is that the Indian team has lacked firepower in the middle-overs. Especially if players who play the anchor role – like Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, and Shreyas Iyer – are together at the crease, the run-rates does not increase – if not drops – which puts the team on the backfoot. In that place, Hardik Pandya can provide the much-needed attacking instincts in the middle phase of the innings.
Speaking to ABP Uncut, Kapil Dev said, “You need to 2-3 players in the middle-order who can give you momentum. There is Hardik Pandya. You can make him a No.4 batsman in T20s. It’s all about experimenting.”
Sanju Samson was tried at the number 4 position in all the three T20Is against Australia- he did not score huge runs, but the right-hander played at a strike rate of 141; not allowing the bowlers to get on top of him. Kapil Dev reckons that the captain and management should back the youngsters despite failures.
The 61-year-old is surprised that after more than a decade of IPL, the Indian team still refrains from being audacious. He believes that the players need to be fearless in T20 cricket and would not eschew from playing their shots.
“You have youngsters like Mayank and Sanju Samson. The captain has to back youngsters and also the management. The think tank has to believe in building a new team because T20 is a format of the youth.
“It is surprising that despite hosting IPL for so many years you are still apprehensive in taking such calls. T20 allows youngsters to be ruthless and if there was no IPL then there wouldn’t have been any discussion but since we have a tournament like IPL, we should make more use of it,” Kapil Dev added.