3 worrying signs in Hardik Pandya's captaincy so far

New Zealand v India - 3rd T20
Hardik Pandya has enjoyed an excellent start to his international captaincy career

Hardik Pandya has made an excellent start to life as captain of Team India in the T20I format. He has won eight of his 11 games in charge, with one game ending in a tie.

Hardik was appointed the stand-in skipper after his excellent run to the 2022 Indian Premier League title at the helm of the Gujarat Titans. With no word on Rohit Sharma's T20I availability since last year's T20 World Cup, there are certain quarters that believe the ace all-rounder has already been handed the reins of the side.

However, there are some concerns over the way Hardik has approached his new role. Here are three worrying signs in Hardik's captaincy so far.

#3 Does Hardik Pandya understand his own limitations?

New Zealand v India - 1st T20
New Zealand v India - 1st T20

Following India's thumping win over New Zealand in the third T20I, Hardik Pandya was adjudged the Player of the Series for his all-round showing. Speaking after the game, the 29-year-old delved into his understanding of the side's current requirements.

But does Hardik understand his own limitations? He seemed to suggest that he has taken on a role similar to the one MS Dhoni took on for India back in the day, but he's batting at No. 5 in the T20I side and takes a long time to get his eye in. Moreover, the all-rounder has been found wanting against hard lengths on multiple occasions and hasn't found it easy to accelerate at the death. Even his spin game seems to have deteriorated over the last few years.

Hardik bats at No. 4 in the IPL for GT, and it will be very difficult for him to shuttle between that role and the one he claims to be playing for Team India. As his game currently stands, he doesn't inspire much confidence as a finisher. The Baroda man has a lot to work on - is he aware of that?

#2 Hardik has often put too much on his shoulders

New Zealand v India - 2nd T20
New Zealand v India - 2nd T20

This was an issue in IPL 2022 as well. Hardik batted in the top four for the eventual champions and often bowled his entire quota of four overs, while also leading the side and taking important decisions throughout. Can his body and mind live up to the task?

In India's recently concluded T20I series against New Zealand and Sri Lanka, Hardik batted at No. 5, ahead of the likes of Deepak Hooda. Although the Men in Blue won both assignments and turned in promising performances, the skipper didn't get the best out of the resources at his disposal, largely because he put too much on his own shoulders.

Shivam Mavi was rarely used in the powerplay while Hardik even took the new ball ahead of Arshdeep Singh, citing a desire to perform challenging roles for the side and lead from the front. But Arshdeep, Mavi, and even Umran Malik haven't been given enough time to improve by facing tough situations, and Hooda has struggled to adapt to a role that he's clearly not suited to.

Hardik needs to understand that he can't do everything for the team and that he needs to maximize the skillsets of the players around him. Speaking of which...

#1 Hardik Pandya is over-using his own bowling

New Zealand v India - 2nd T20
New Zealand v India - 2nd T20

Hardik Pandya bowled nine overs in the three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka. He sent down three overs in the first game and two in the second, all with the new ball, before bowling his full quota in the inconsequential third contest.

Against New Zealand, Pandya bowled 11 of a possible 12 overs even though the likes of Mavi and Arshdeep were significantly less involved in the action. Why? Not only are the duo better with the new ball, but they also desperately need exposure and practice. Even Umran bowled only 19 balls over the two games he played against the Kiwis.

Hardik is a good bowler; he's even becoming great. He can move the new ball in the powerplay and hit hard lengths in the middle overs. But the Team India skipper is still the fourth-choice pacer in most playing XIs he fields, and he needs to understand his role.

Hardik bowling himself as often as he does right now will affect the Men in Blue on multiple fronts in the future.

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