Hardik Pandya: The bowler that India deserves but the batsman that it needs
It was for all the attention that surrounded the forced enigma of Hardik Pandya, he finally delivered in the test that mattered (literally and figuratively speaking) and also in the most demanding and testing format of the sport, Test Cricket.
Hardik Pandya has managed to maintain his stocks which have seen an exponential rise since he was first seen in Indian colours against Australia in 1st of a 3-match T20I series. India went on to win that match and the series whitewashing Australia in the process.
But his Introduction to the rigours of International Cricket was not a pleasant one with him being schooled by the Australian openers for 28 runs in the first 7 balls of his very first spell in the international arena. He came back strongly by picking up Chris Lynn as his first international wicket and Wade as his second to return figures of 3/37 in his 3 overs.
He was touted as a rare right arm bowling all-rounder who could bat or more specifically slog well for a few quick runs. But he started rising too fast too soon in his stature which led to his apparent but distasteful comparison to the Indian all-time great Kapil Dev.
In all fairness, this was not something that he had asked for but the team management's and the media's immense trust in him might have become too much for him in his short but eventful career. He was exposed in the extreme conditions on the South African pitches, but he still somehow managed to be India's second highest run scorer behind the ever in-form Virat Kohli.
He was in news again due to his apparent inability of countering tough overseas conditions with the bat and his recent exploits with the bowl were far from desirable. All of the praise that he has garnered over the last two seasons leading up to the unfortunate comparisons with the all-time greats of the game did not deter him one bit.
He came back on top to put all the skeptical views surrounding his inclusion in the team to rest. His spell that started with a beautiful ball to edge out Joe root set the tone for the visitors to run over the English batting lineup. The set-up leading up to the dismissal of Bairstow showed his maturity to adapt to these conditions, and foxing the English players at their own game.
His spell of 5/28, that might have turned the course of the match and also turned a new leaf in his small but action-packed career that ranges from his on-field antics to his off the field shenanigans, may not put his critics to lay bare. But it is enough to show that he is not going to fade away into oblivion anytime soon. However, he will have to do this more often to sustain his name in the echelons of the greats.
He will have to match his exploits with the ball with the bat so as to justify his place as an all-rounder. Then he will also become what Kapil Dev had become to the Indian Team of the 80s and 90s which was indispensable.