Hardik Pandya IPL 2024.
Hardik Pandya IPL 2024. Image Credit: X

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With the end of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024, the focus moves towards the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, and the form of India’s premier all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been a huge concern for the inaugural champions of the tournament. Pandya has been going through a very challenging time of his career, both on and off the field.

The former Gujarat Titans (GT) captain, who was traded to the Mumbai Indians (MI) and relaced Rohit Sharma as their new captain had to bear with so much inside the boundary rope, as Hardik Pandya’s form with both bat and ball have gone down in last fee months.

He finished a forgettable year in the IPL both with the captaincy and all-round performance. Under his leadership, Mumbai finished with the wooden spoon, while he could manage only 216 runs in 13 innings at a strike rate of 143.04, and pick up 11 wickets at an economy of 10.75.

‘If Hardik Pandya has good tournament, India will have a great chance’ – Harbhajan Singh

Very few MI fans could obey the captaincy change decision of the Mumbai Indians, and that was quite visible during the toss time at the Wankhede Stadium, home of the five-time champions, as Hardik Pandya kept on getting thrashed in various ways.

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However, former India player Harbhajan Singh feels that if Hardik Pandya could score those runs, coming late in the batting order, and pick up wickets then India will have a good tournament.

‘When he wears that blue jersey, he will be a different Hardik Pandya because we know he can score those runs and take those wickets. I want Hardik to come good as he has gone through a lot and I wish him all the very best to have a very good tournament for India,” Former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh told in a recent interview.

Harbhajan knows the fact that the all-rounder’s form is a concern, and the fact that shifting the base from Gujarat to Mumbai didn’t help, as the fans didn’t welcome it positively, specially after the captaincy change.

‘If he (Hardik Pandya) has a good tournament, obviously India will have a great chance to go forward. Yes, his form is a bit of a concern and lot of other stuff was going on around him, his shifting from Gujarat to Mumbai, was a big change and the team didn’t react too well to Hardik (Pandya) coming back and that too as captain,,” Member of India’s T20 World Cup winning team in 2007 mentioned.

On many occasions, it was visible that Rohit and Hardik wasn’t going in the same direction with their thought process, but given the former is now the captain of the India team, both need to be on the same page, and that’s what Harbhajan believes too.

‘It looked like they (Hardik Pandya & Rohit Sharma) were not playing together as a team. So, there was a lot going on. Hardik wasn’t a free man in the last two months. I believe both of them and many others who have played in different teams will have to come together to do something special for the nation,” Turbanator expressed in the same interview.

‘I believe it’s the responsibility of the management to come together, and win together. Even if they lose they should be losing together,” 43-year-old added.

‘Whether Gautam becomes coach or Ashish Nehra…’ – Harbhajan Singh

The veteran also spoke about that India’s pace attack, apart from the leader Jasprit Bumrah looks a little thin, as both Arshdeep Singh and Mohammad Siraj need to step up in needful times.

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‘Pace attack definitely could be a concern because Bumrah is in a different league for the kind of bowler he is. He will win you games on any kind of pitch. He doesn’t need conditions whereas other bowlers like Arshdeep and Siraj would need help from conditions,” Harbhajan Singh opened up on India’s pace battery.

He also feels that Virat Kohli is now a changed batter while showing aggression from the beginning for the last two-three years. When asked about how he looks up to potential news of Gautam Gambhir becoming the next India coach, Harbhajan bowled a ‘doosra’.

‘If I say it properly, it is a speculation, which is doing rounds, the biggest thing a coach can do is to bring everyone together, so that team plays together. So, whether Gautam becomes coach or Ashish Nehra, or whosoever gets the opportunity, hope they do better than what others before them did,” Former Mumbai Indians player concluded.