India and Australia set to clash tomorrow as Pandya gears up for ODI captaincy debut

After an entertaining Test series, India and Australia are once again ready to lock horns in the ODI series that starts tomorrow. The series will provide the Indian team with good practice ahead of the ODI World Cup later this year, and will also help decide their best eleven for the most important tournament in the game. Tomorrow’s match, however, is of great importance to one particular player; Hardik Pandya.

Why is it an important game for Pandya? 

The game marks Hardik Pandya’s official debut as the captain of Team India’s ODI squad. Before this, Pandya has captained the Indian team at the T20 level, but not in a 50-over game. 

As a captain, Pandya has played 11 matches so far, including a series against New Zealand on their turf. Of these 11 games, Pandya has managed to win 7, while losing 2. One game ended up being tied while one was washed away with rain. Pandya was also clinical in leading the Gujarat Titans to their maiden IPL title in their inaugural season at the league.

So far, these numbers look pretty good. However, a correct assessment can only be made if Hardik is able to replicate these numbers in more matches and across different formats of the game. 

Former players such as Dinesh Karthik, Sunil Gavaskar, etc as well as the current Indian coach Rahul Dravid have backed up Pandya as the successor of Rohit Sharma. In that light, tomorrow’s game could be a career-defining moment for the Indian all-rounder. 

Has captaincy affected Pandya’s numbers? 

Well, Hardik Pandya is a calm and collected individual and does not let the captaincy affect his numbers. If anything, captaincy has turned him into a more mature cricketer. We don’t see him playing rash shots and getting out in crucial situations anymore. 

Speaking of numbers, Pandya as a captain has scored 219 runs in 11 games at an average of 27 and a strike rate of 130. While his average has increased by a whole 2 runs as a captain, his strike has dropped significantly (144 as a player). Even his bowling has seemed to improve a lot as the all-rounder has managed to get 8 wickets as well. 

Pandya has started taking more and more responsibility, often promoting himself up the order or bowling with the new ball. This has helped him evolve as a cricketer and made his game just better. 

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