Former Indian opener Aakash Chopra has opined that Hardik Pandya, who played a swashbuckling knock against Australia in the 1st ODI, proved that he is good enough to play in the Indian team as a pure batsman.
He made this observation while reviewing India's defeat against Australia in a video shared on his YouTube channel.
Aakash Chopra started by highlighting that Hardik Pandya was playing yesterday's encounter against Australia as a pure batsman since he was not fit enough to bowl.
"Hardik Pandya was playing this encounter as a batsman and will be playing the future matches as well as a batsman. Hardik, the bowler and batsman, the package is outstanding but Hardik the batsman, batting at No.6. "
The renowned commentator lauded Hardik Pandya for playing an almost flawless knock and making the best use of a rare chance to play at No. 6 as a specialist batsman.
"How many times does a pure batsman get to bat at No.6. Hardik Pandya got that chance and he showed that he is more than capable of playing as a pure batsman with the way he bats. The others got lives and were struggling a little against the short ball but not Hardik."
The 43-year-old pointed out that although the junior Pandya was unfortunate not to get to the three-figure mark, he kept India in the game till the time he was around.
"He hit the short balls and demolished the spinners. He batted very well. He may have missed his century but till the time he was at the crease, he kept India's hopes alive."
Aakash Chopra on Hardik Pandya's partnership with Shikhar Dhawan
Aakash Chopra also appreciated Hardik Pandya for playing the aggressor's role to perfection in his partnership with Shikhar Dhawan with the latter being the ideal foil at the other end.
"When Hardik and Shikhar had reached the 100-run partnership, Hardik had 75 of those with 25 for Shikhar Dhawan. So you know that a player who has come at No.6 is dominating and the opener is playing second fiddle, of course that is how partnerships develop."
Aakash Chopra signed off by observing that Hardik Pandya would even merit a promotion up the batting order in the near future if he continues playing in the same vein.
"So, it was outstanding from Hardik Pandya and it is a stamp of approval that he is more than capable as a batsman and the day is not far when he can be sent at No.5 or even at No.4."
Hardik Pandya's 90-run knock in yesterday's encounter against Australia is his highest score to date in ODI cricket. He also achieved the distinction of becoming the fastest Indian to 1000 ODI runs, in terms of the number of balls played, during the course of his batting effort.