Muttiah Muralitharan has backed Hardik Pandya despite his lacklustre performance in the recently concluded ODI series against the legend’s country.
Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan has backed Hardik Pandya despite his lacklustre performance in the three-match ODI series, saying the India all-rounder’s calibre is such that had he been the captain of a team, Hardik Pandya would have definitely made it to his XI.
Muttiah Muralitharan: Hardik Pandya Is A Short Period Batsman Who Would Surprise One With A 40 Ball Ton
Calling Hardik Pandya a special player, Muttiah Muralitharan feels that he may not be 100 per cent yet with the ball since he’s only beginning to return to bowling in international cricket, but reckons the India all-rounder is an asset with both bat and ball given his variety and what he brings to the table.
“Hardik Pandya is a special player. If I was captain, I would have him in any team in the world – an IPL team, an Australian team… any team in the world. Because he has got the ability to bowl at 140 clicks and he can adjust and also bowl slower. Because of the injury, I feel he couldn’t do much,” Muralitharan said on ESPNCricinfo.
“Secondly, his batting is also special. We can’t accept him to play like Nitish Rana, or Suryakumar Yadav… stay long and get runs. He is a short-period batsman who would bamboozle you with a 40-ball hundred. That’s the expectation I would have from him.”
Hardik Pandya’s fitness and bowling form have been in focus in this limited-overs series. The India all-rounder has not been at his best in the ODI series against Sri Lanka. He bowled 9 overs in the first two ODIs and was dismissed for a duck and 19 in the second and third ODI. He picked 2 wickets in the series.
Muttiah Muralitharan: Hardik Pandya Should Be Allowed To Play His Own Game
Muttiah Muralitharan weighed in on Hardik Pandya’s role, explaining how India should not expect him to play through the innings like their other top-order batsman.
In fact, the former off-spinner reckons that the ideal role for Hardik Pandya is to be of a hitter down the order who can strike lusty blows and provide the team some impetus towards the end.
“He might get out in the first two overs but if he clicks for 20-30 balls, he would score 50 runs. So that is the expectation from Hardik Pandya. If you make him play 70 balls and expect 90 runs, he would not be the same player,” Muralitharan added.
“It’s like asking Jayasuriya to open and score at run a ball. He won’t be successful. These players can play No. 7 and 8 anytime. Put him in and let him play his own game.”
After recovering from a career-threatening back injury he suffered in 2019 for which he went back surgery, Hardik Pandya bowled quite impressively and without too much apparent discomfort during the limited-overs series against England.
He didn’t bowl in IPL 2020 at UAE and didn’t bowl much in the Australia tour except for one ODI. Hardik Pandya has bowled sporadically since his back surgery, which has led to his non-selection in Test format.
After missing out on a lot of action owing to a back injury, Hardik Pandya made a phenomenal comeback in the IPL 2020 season, playing the finisher role for the team and hammering the ball in the slog overs at a strike rate of 178. But in IPL 2021, he disappointed scoring only 52 runs in 7 games averaging a pathetic 8.66. He didn’t bowl in the last two IPL editions.