Hardik Pandya better than me, says Kapil Dev
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Former India captain Kapil Dev has said that India all-rounder Hardik Pandya is a better cricketer than he was during his time. The 58-year-old heaped praise on Pandya's abilities and said that he has the potential to become a 'great player.'
"Hardik Pandya is better than me. But he has to do a lot of hard work. It is still too early. We should not create unnecessary burden on him. He has the talent and ability to be a great player," Dev said.
The 23-year-old Pandya seems to have come of age in the ongoing limited-overs series against Australia wherein he has rescued the team from precarious situations and has given crucial breakthroughs. Pandya has 181 runs from 3 innings and has picked up five wickets.
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Ever since his Test debut against Sri Lanka this year, Pandya has been making all the right noises with his all-round performances. His maiden Test hundred in Pallekele helped him repay the faith that the selectors had shown by handing him his Test cap.
Coming into the Australia ODI series, Pandya had been given the responsibility by the team management to play the role of a finisher, with MS Dhoni repeatedly expressing his desire to bat up the order. However, Pandya has shown versatility in the series in that he has batted at different positions, in different conditions, and under intense scoreboard pressure.
A veteran of 131 Tests, who picked up 434 wickets, Dev is widely regarded as one of the best all-rounders in the history of the game. With India's struggles at finding a capable all-rounder quite evident, Pandya's emergence, and his performances of late have forged comparisons with the legendary cricketer.
Another Indian captain, and the third-highest Test run-scorer of all-time, Rahul Dravid, who was also Pandya's coach at India 'A' said that Pandya knew how to play 'situations' and not the natural game.
"A good example about Hardik from my perspective is, he's willing to play situations and not just the natural game we often speak about. Credit goes completely to him. It's not about playing just the one way you want to play," Dravid told ESPNCricinfo.
While this is indeed a big compliment for Pandya, who has only taken his initial strides in international cricket, he must not let the attention get the better of him. Often at such a young age, expectations tend to put additional pressure on your mind and it is how you deal with those expectations that defines you as a cricketer.
As Dev said, any unnecessary burden on Pandya would be unwelcome, and hence, it is also the responsibility of the team management to ensure that amidst the comparisons and made and honours bestowed, Pandya doesn't lose his focus.