Mumbai Indians all-rounder Hardik Pandya played a match-turning knock of 30-ball 40 runs against Punjab Kings on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi.
Pandya missed the first two games for MI after the IPL 2021 season restarted on September 19 and failed to chase against RCB in his last game.
The 27-year-old was in a different mode on a sluggish track at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium as he smashed four boundaries and a couple of sixes in his tremendous innings.
Hardik Pandya is a batsman first and bowling is only a bonus: Virender Sehwag
Pandya, who came in to bat at no.5, made just 12 runs from 16 balls at one stage, but things changed in the 17th overs bowled by Mohammed Shami. Shami started with a short ball that hit Pandya on his arm, and the batsman hit a six and a four in the same over.
Pandya smashed 16 runs off four balls in the penultimate over against Shami to finish the game for Mumbai Indians, who won their first match in the second leg of IPL 2021 in UAE.
Former Indian batsman Virender Sehwag feels that the Indian all-rounder should be purely used as a batsman even if he does not bowl.
“Hardik Pandya alone can win you matches. He is a batsman first and bowling is only a bonus. Even if he is not fit enough to bowl, he can win matches with the bat. I will always keep such a player in my team,” Sehwag told Cricbuzz.
Hardik Pandya’s standout ability is with the bat: Ajay Jadeja
Ajay Jadeja had similar thoughts that of Sehwag as the former Indian batter opined that Pandya should bat up the order rather than batting at no.7 position. Jadeja feels that Pandya won’t be able to grow as a batsman in that position.
“Pandya’s batting is much more important than his bowling. If he wasn’t as destructive a batter, there was no way he would be in Mumbai Indians or the Indian team. It should be clear that he’s a batting all-rounder. His standout ability is with the bat,” Jadeja said.
“Even if he doesn’t bowl, I believe that he has the rare ability as a batter. It shouldn’t be wasted at number 7. He won’t be able to grow as a batter in that position. If a batter has to grow, he has to be sent up the order,” he added.
Hardik Pandya is also part of India’s T20 World Cup squad and national chief selector Chetan Sharma had said that the player is fit to bowl the full quota of four overs.