Former New Zealand and Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Daniel Vettori said the Indian team management should meticulously think of batting Hardik Pandya at No.4.
On Sunday, Hardik-led Gujarat Titans lifted their maiden IPL title in the first season itself. The Titans outsmarted Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in front of a raucous home crowd at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.
Skipper Hardik anchored the 131-run chase with a calm and composed mindset when Rajasthan tended to claw their way back into the game.
Hardik scored 34 off 30 deliveries, with the help of three boundaries and a six off Ravichandran Ashwin, in a 63-run stand with opener Shubman Gill, who remained unbeaten on 45.
It feels like Hardik Pandya is going to slot into No.5 in Indian team: Daniel Vettori
Hardik slotted himself at No.4 in the Titans batting order throughout the tournament, amassing 487 runs at an average of 44.27 and a strike rate of 131.27.
Vettori believes Hardik would bat at No.5 in the Indian team in the upcoming T20I series against South Africa but suggested promoting him to No.4 in future.
“If you can fit him in at No. 4, I think, go for it. That’s the perfect position for him. You don’t want to take anything away from the likes of Suryakumar Yadav. But, if this option is there, it will be great. As of now, though, it feels like he’s going to slot into No.5, with Pant potentially dropping down to six,” Vettori said on ESPNcricinfo.
There was no prior evidence that Hardik is a No. 4 batter: Sanjay Manjrekar
Former Indian cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar lauded Hardik’s stellar campaign not just for his stellar performance with bat and ball but also for his steward leadership in a triumphant campaign.
“Whoever made that call, we’ve got to compliment them, because there was no prior evidence that Hardik is a No. 4 batter,” Manjrekar said.
“This is a guy who has some pedigree as a Test player as well. Even in Australia, in white-ball cricket, when he turned up as a pure batter, he was impressive. He has been one of the very few players in the IPL who has been able to play in the gear needed for those situations.”
“Five matches into the IPL, you could see that he was comfortable there. Sometimes when the cameras are on, these guys know what kind of demeanour to carry. This guy was genuinely relaxed. He almost enjoyed the leadership. That tells you a lot about Hardik, but nobody saw that coming,” he added.
Titans topped the table in the league stage with 10 wins in 14 games and dominated in the playoffs against Royals to emerge champions of IPL 2022.