Hardik Pandya caught between two stools; lack of competition and comparison with Kapil Dev
We always tend to misinterpret the concept of an all-rounder. So, whom do we call as an all-rounder? A batsman who can bowl a bit or a bowler who can bat a bit? Is that all about an all-rounder? Definitely no. Let us raise the bar substantially. An all-rounder should be capable of winning matches consistently, either with his bowling or batting. Consistent performance in either of the departments makes one a good all-rounder.
The all-rounder with much limelight these days is Hardik Pandya. An absolute hard-hitter with the bat and an able option with the ball, Pandya has been the mainstay all-rounder in the Indian starting XI for quite some time now. But his progress over the months has not gone unnoticed. While some have raised comparisons with former greats, there's much to opine about the lack of competition for his place in the Indian squad.
A long long way to go ahead for Hardik Pandya
At times, the job of finding an all-rounder has been harder than being a one. But India was lucky to have world-class all-rounders such as Kapil Dev and Vinoo Mankad in their ranks. The luck prevailed and India after almost three decades countersigned the services of an able all-rounder in the name of Hardik Pandya.
Of late, Pandya has been one of the best finds for the Indian team. But to compare Pandya with Kapil Dev would be unfair from Kapil's side. No one can undercut what Kapil has given to the Indian team. His fierce bowling, aggressive batting, athletic fielding, and influential captaincy was all about the character of the Indian team in the 80s and 90s.
People often compare Pandya with Kapil owing to the former's hard-hitting skills. But only a few knew that unlike Pandya, Kapil had a very calculative approach in his batting. Kapil's game awareness was altogether on a different level. Thus, there is a long way ahead for Hardik before being compared to the legendary Kapil Dev.
Is lack of competition, a real problem for Hardik Pandya?
His bright batting in Sri Lanka and in the Cape Town Test, where he scored an aggressive 93, signalled the arrival of a perfect all-rounder for India. His bowling also improved match after match. But suddenly Pandya’s graph appears to descend mainly due to careless attitude even when the situation demands big from him.
The main reason for Pandya's recent downfall is the lack of competition for his spot in the Indian team. In his last eight ODIs, Hardik has managed to score only 52 runs at a low average of 10.4.
Thus with a World Cup ahead, Indian team's think-tank needs to invest in a lot of players for the all-rounder spot in the Indian team to make Pandya accustomed to high competition for his spot in the forthcoming World Cup. There's no doubting Pandya's abilities. But he needs to pull up his socks soon enough and repay the faith that the Indian selectors have kept in him for so many months.