It's been quite a while since Indian cricket team had a decent all-rounder who could bowl medium-pace. Irfan Pathan faded away slowly after making a promising start to his international career while Stuart Binny hasn't grabbed the opportunities given to him. The ODI squad for the New Zealand series consists a lot of young names and Hardik Pandya is one among them.
The all-rounder from Baroda will be playing his debut series and it looks almost certain that he will be making his debut on Sunday against the Kiwis in Dharamsala. His big and clean hitting combined with decent bowling made him the obvious choice for the ODI squad after Ravindra Jadeja was rested. His ability to deliver at crunch situations makes him even more special.
Speaking to BCCI.TV on Saturday, Pandya said that he is taking things slowly but steadily. He said:
"After the IPL, I was out for two months. I worked hard on my game and that helped me. I got to know about my game and the areas I needed to improve. I wanted to work on my bowling and wanted to be more consistent at it and also get better at batting."
The right-hander was part of the India A squad for Australia. His fine performances with both bat and the ball made him the ideal choice for the slot of an all-rounder for the ODI series against New Zealand.
Talking about his experience with the India A team, he said that it was a pleasure working with Rahul Dravid. He said:
“The India A tour was amazing for me as that is how I got back to the India team, isn’t it? I learned a lot of things from Rahul Dravid Sir and Paras Mhambrey and other support staff members. As an individual, it was a crucial part of my career.”
In an intense training session at the HPCA stadium in Dharamsala, Pandya was bowling on a regular basis, had a good session with the bat in the nets and took part in the fielding drills. He was quoted in the interview as saying:
“It is good to be back in the India blues. We’re playing at such a beautiful venue and the atmosphere is pretty good so I am very happy to be back. It is my first day with Anil sir as India’s head coach. I did get to work with him with Mumbai Indians in the IPL, but I am keen to learn new things from him,”
With the first ODI scheduled to be played on Sunday in Dharamsala, Pandya looks certain to earn his cap by occupying the vacant all-rounder's slot.