Hardik Pandya, Rohit Sharma
Hardik Pandya, Rohit Sharma. (Photo: Getty)

Former Pakistan pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar heaped praise on Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya for excellent bowling in the recently concluded England tour. Hardik played a vital role in India’s triumph in both T20I and ODI series victory with his all-round performance against England.

In the first T20I match in Southampton, the 28-year-old mustered his best batting and bowling figures in the shortest format. He scored his maiden T20I fifty to push India to 198/8 and picked four wickets for 33 as India won by 50 runs.

Was happy to see Hardik Pandya perform as a bowler: Shoaib Akhtar

Hardik finished the ODI series with six scalps in three games. He claimed the wickets of Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, and Liam Livingstone to end with 4 for 24 from seven overs. His tight bowling helped India to bowl England out for 259 and eventually win the series.

Hardik Pandya Picked Up 2 Wickets In His First Spell
Hardik Pandya Picked Up 2 Wickets In His First Spell PC- ESPN

Hardik has struggled with his fitness in recent years and that kept him in and out of the team. His bowling was a major talking point during the T20 World Cup in UAE last year. Hardik wasn’t fit enough to bowl a full quota of overs and drew flak from pundits for his selection in the squad.

“I was happy to see Hardik Pandya perform as a bowler as he brings an incredible balance to the team. I am also delighted that he has become serious about his fitness. He got a good shock when he was out of the team for 1-2 years as he was a bit unfit casual,” Akhtar said on his YouTube channel.

Hardik Pandya Will Become One Of The Best All-Rounders In The World - Shoaib Akhtar

“He seems to enjoy his life on the field. He should not enjoy much off the field as he is a rare talent. He is a great fielder, a great bowler, actually, he is a great addition to the pace battery. He outshone other bowlers and I would advice him to remain focused on his game,” he added.

Hardik Pandya will become one of the best all-rounders in the world: Shoaib Akhtar

Hardik played an important part alongside Rishabh Pant in their 133-run stand for the fifth wicket. The all-rounder hit 71 in 55 deliveries to provide the impetus in a chase of 260 runs. India went to win the game by five wickets on the back of Pant’s sublime hundred (125*).

“He is a very good batter as he played very later and the number of compact shots that he has, I don’t have any doubt that he will become one of the best all-rounders in the world,” Akhtar said. 

Hardik has been rested for India’s upcoming ODI series against the West Indies but will return to the squad for the five-match T20I series.

Also Read: Hardik Pandya Asked Me To Get Him Through The 2019 World Cup: Shankar Basu