Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya (Credits: Twitter)

Sunil Gavaskar looked extremely satisfied reacting to the Indian squad for the 2022 T20I World Cup and feels the current unit has what it takes to go the distance and win the World Cup while reserving huge praise for a special player-Hardik Pandya.

India’s success at the 2022 T20I World Cup in Australia surely hinges on one man-Hardik Pandya.

Although the selectors have named their final squad for the tournament, Hardik Pandya’s inclusion was never in jeopardy as he has been that kind of player for India, especially since his return to cricket after IPL 2022. Perhaps the captaincy stint has done wonders for him as he led Gujarat Titans to their maiden trophy in its maiden season.

Perhaps that was why he was promptly named India captain for the second string side bound for Ireland. But leadership quality is just one facet of a multi-faceted Hardik Pandya.

Not only he can be India’s future captain, possibly after Rohit Sharma in white ball cricket, presently he can also double up as the most efficient T20I bowler for India.

Moreover, his batting skills are always in demand. There is one more thing that former India cricketer Sunil Gavaskar mentioned about him, that he is a gun fielder.

Hardik Pandya, Rohit Sharma
Hardik Pandya, Rohit Sharma (Credits: Twitter)

Sunil Gavaskar: Hardik Pandya Can Be India’s Match Winner With Bat, Ball, And Fielding

Hardik Pandya’s career and maturity have seen a dramatic shift since his appointment as captain of IPL franchise Gujarat Titans. Banking on his potential with the bat and ball, the 28-year-old also impressed with his leadership skills and had won the first IPL title for the Gujarat Titans earlier this year.

“It has been a few months since he has returned from a back injury. So we must wrap him in cotton wool and use him because he can be our match-winner with the bat, with the ball.

“So, we must use him judiciously. Don’t forget, at mid-off, he affects some electrifying run-outs as well,” Sunil Gavaskar said. 

Sunil Gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar (Credits: AFP)

“Direct hits at the bowler’s end, catching the batter inches short. It’s not just the bowling and the batting aspects of Hardik Pandya, the fielding aspect that could turn the game India’s way,” Sunil Gavaskar said in an interaction.

Hardik Pandya scored 487 runs in IPL 2022 at an average of 44.27 and a strike rate of 131.27. He also picked eight wickets at an economy rate of 7.28. Taking extra responsibility on the batting front at No. 3-4, Hardik Pandya topped the runs chart for Gujarat Titans.

He also filled in the fifth/sixth bowler’s capacity, taking 8 wickets with a healthy economy rate to dispel doubts around his bowling fitness. The right-arm seamer reserved his best for the last by delivering an impactful spell of 3 for 17 off his 4 overs in the final.

Sunil Gavaskar Likens Hardik Pandya To His Former Coach Ravi Shastri

He went one step further and likened him to his former coach Ravi Shastri.

“I won’t be surprised if he is like the Ravi Shastri of 1985, if he is like the Champion of Champions.”

Ravi Shastri. (Photo: Twitter)
Ravi Shastri. (Photo: Twitter

He cited Ravi Shastri’s 1985 World Championship performance where the all-round Mumbaikar came to the fore, scoring up 82 runs in just five matches in the tournament, including three half-centuries and picking up eight wickets at a great economy rate of 3.32.

“Yes, I think he could possibly do what Ravi Shastri did in 1985 where Ravi was the outstanding performer with both bat and ball in the entire tournament. Some good catches as well. Hardik Pandya is capable of doing that.”

India has largely named the same squad for the twin T20I series against Australia and South Africa as the one that will travel to the 2022 T20I World Cup.

Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Arshdeep Singh will report to NCA between the two series for a brief period to work on their fitness. Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will sit out the three-match series against South Africa while Arshdeep Singh is not part of the side to face Australia.