'Test batsman' Pandya shows promise
Can Hardik Pandya defend till stumps against Rashid Khan? Does he have the technique and temperament to see off the tricky phase heading into stumps?
Wasn't Ashwin, who had batted at No 6 on numerous occasions, a better choice at No 7?
Test batsman Pandya answered all of these questions at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in the final half hour on day one and in the first session on day two. Remember batsman Hardik Pandya in Sri Lanka in his debut Test series, remember his whirlwind knock in South Africa, albeit in a losing cause, a few failures followed suit.
The temperament questions flared again. Let's not forget, the cricketer from Baroda has featured only in 23 first-class matches, which is one number lesser than his age - 24. Usually, one would expect brute force from Pandya. Yes, by the time he was dismissed, he had scored 71 off 94 balls. But this was a different Friday.
Pandya was defending overnight, he was playing for stumps and he was eager to soak in the sunshine on day two. One could sense that his blood pressure level was as cool and calm as that of the Bengaluru weather.
He was willing to defend the good balls early on Day 2. There can be positivity in defending as well. Pandya's defence showcased only that. The flashy elements of his batting took the back seat, at least till he surpassed his fifty which came off 80-odd balls. That's certainly slow, given his usual strike rate.
Rashid Khan, the bowler and fielder at covers, was at him all the time. But it didn't bother Pandya much. He was taking his time in setting himself up before every ball. He moved away to the square leg before facing the pacers and wasn't looking to deposit every ball into the 'ABD roof' at the Chinnaswamy.
He was working the ball around. He was willing to run hard as he nudged the ball through the midwicket and covers frequently.
When he decided to drive the ball, he dealt with it severely. His presence and the manner in which he carried himself in the white flannels with the bat made one feel as if he was playing at No. 4 with Murali Vijay at the other end. Instead, he was in the company of India's long middle order - Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
There were those odd hits and misses here and there when he countered Rashid and Wafadar, but he never looked rattled or tried to reverse the pressure with his aggressive batting style. The bouncer ploy was on from Wafadar and Pandya tried to upper-cut without success. Then, he decided to get behind the line or play the conventional hook or pull.
Pandya was in his elements as a Test batsman. As soon as he went past the fifty, he broke loose and he eventually fell to one such attempted chip towards third-man.
Certainly, there is a lot of promise in Pandya's approach and attitude as a Test batsman.