India’s latest cricketing sensation Hardik Pandya has been the talking point ever since he made his debut for the national side. An unknown commodity a couple of years, now a member of all 3 formats for India, Pandya’s journey has been quite amazing. A lot of people have rated him very highly and deemed him to be the all-rounder India was looking for.
But is it alright to put him in the league of the legendary Kapil Dev just yet? The Indian fans have been overjoyed by the upcoming of Hardik Pandya due to the fact there has hardly been any fast bowling all-rounder amongst the ranks ever since Kapil Dev hung his boots from the game.
There have been a few spin bowling all-rounders in the form of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja but the combination of a pacer and a batsman in one was missing. The only name that comes to mind who rose as a fast bowling all-rounder is Irfan Pathan. But as he became better with batting, his bowling prowess considerably went down and he disappeared from the scene.
Kapil Dev was a Champion
If we are putting Hardik Pandya in the league of Kapil Dev already, we need to slow down a bit. Those who compare the two don’t really know who Kapil Dev actually was. He was an outstanding player and one of the best all-rounders in the world to have ever graced the game of cricket. He is still amongst the top 5 all-rounders of all time in the cricketing fraternity.
He was not a bowler who could bat a bit neither was he a batsman who could bowl a bit. Kapil possessed equal prowess in both departments and was a master in both of them. The cricketers of his era are still in awe of him for the way he used to swing the ball and demolish the oppositions with his devastating batting. Certainly, at this moment, Pandya stands nowhere close to Kapil Dev.
A long way to go for Hardik Pandya
Although Pandya has broken into the squads of all three formats yet it’s just the beginning of his career. He has featured in just 3 Tests, 18 ODIs and 19 T20Is. Kapil Dev, a stalwart of Indian cricket, played 131 Tests and 225 ODIs for India He has a total of 687 international wickets to his name and 9031 runs to his credit.
These are astonishing numbers for someone who played for so long. Pandya has impressed one and all with his all-round skills yet he has a mountain to climb to get anywhere near the 1983 World Cup-winning captain.
No shortage of talent
There is absolutely no doubt about the sheer talent that Pandya possesses. The 23-year-old is a powerful hitter and is a potential finisher in ODIs and T20Is. The innings of 76 off just 43 balls that he played in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy final against Pakistan showed his eagerness and the ability to handle extreme pressure. Although India lost the match badly yet it gave India a player for the future.
His bowling has improved massively in the last one year. Where he didn’t have a great start against Australia, he worked hard on that aspect and got better big time. He added a few yards to his pace and now he clocks close to 140kph consistently. On the subject of bowling, who can forget the final over that he bowled against Bangladesh in the ICC World T20 2016 where he kept his nerves and brought India home.
Balancing factor in the side
He gradually won the confidence of the skipper Virat Kohli according to whom Pandya provides balance in the side. The same aspect was applied when he was given his first Test cap in the series against Australia. He lived up to the expectations as with a half-century on debut, he cleared yet another hurdle in his career. To put an icing on the cake, the right-hander notched up a brilliant hundred in just his 3rd Test.
Batting with the tail and going hammer and tongs against the Sri Lankan bowlers was a spectacle to watch. If he keeps his place in the Test side, he will have to bat a lot with the 9, 10, Jack. But he has already shown that he can do that as good as anyone else. With the bowling though, he still needs to work a bit more to be effective on unresponsive pitches.
Everyone in India is going gaga over Pandya at the moment but he is yet to face the test of overseas conditions. Players in the subcontinent are judged on the way they perform in countries like South Africa, England, Australia and New Zealand. A tour to each of these countries will happen soon and whether Pandya stands up to the challenge or not, remains to be seen.
The conclusion is pretty straightforward. Pandya has a long way to go to be anywhere close to the legacy of Kapil Dev. If he manages to achieve even half of what Kapil did, the right-hander is going to have a bright future. So for the moment, put the comparisons aside and let’s celebrate the fact that India has found such a great talent who has the potential to do great things in the future.
The Rose Bowl, Southampton
Kidderminster Cricket Club
Old Trafford, Manchester
Riverside Ground, Durham
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