IND vs SA Live Update: India still has a few more series to play before they lock in on their final 15 for the big event in Australia this October, but the return of a 28-year-old star in the Indian set-up has already drawn immense praise. Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has already hailed the youngster as a “game-changer” for the Men in Blue, not just in the tournament but also in all T20I matches. The Twenty20 World Cup is still three and a half months away.
Hardik Pandya just finished off a successful season in the Indian Premier League 2022, both as an all-rounder and as the captain of his team, and Gavaskar was quick to heap accolades on him. Because of his outstanding performance in all facets of the game, he was given a spot in the Indian side for the first time since the Twenty20 World Cup in 2021.
Speaking to Star Sports after India’s match against South Africa in the first Twenty20 International earlier this week, Gavaskar expressed his opinion that Hardik will be the game changer for India in all of the T20I matches in the foreseeable future and that he hopes to see the all-rounder take the new ball as well as at times. Gavaskar also stated that he wishes to see the all-rounder take the new ball.
“I believe that he is going to be the one who changes the game for India more often than not in all of the upcoming matches, not just in the World Cup but in every match that India participates in, regardless of whether he bats at No. 5 or whether he comes into bowl at first change or second change. There are moments when I would really want to watch him bowl with the new ball,” he stated.
IND vs SA Live Update: Graeme Smith wants Hardik Pandya to play the finisher’s role
In the first game of the series against Temba Bavuma’s team at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, Hardik made a fantastic comeback to the India XI by scoring an unbeaten 31 runs with the bat in the span of 12 balls and also bowling an over, even though it went for 18 runs.
When asked whether India needs Hardik the finisher more than his bowling talents, former South African captain Graeme Smith, who was there for the same conversation, provided his response by stating, “Yes. You also need a player who can finish, but I believe that the all-around package that Hardik Pandya brings to the table provides India with more selection alternatives.
It might give you the option of playing an extra spinner or a bowler less and strengthening your batting. Going into the World Cup, I think having him as a full-blown all-rounder is key to India’s team balance. It might give you the option of playing an extra spinner or a bowler less and strengthening your batting,” Smith said.