Irfan Pathan believes Hardik Pandya's ability to hit sixes at any stage of a T20 innings makes him an extremely valuable asset for Team India.
Hardik has been recalled to the Indian squad for the T20I series against South Africa based on his performances in IPL 2022. The Gujarat Titans (GT) skipper excelled with both bat and ball in the tournament and took his side to the title.
While speaking on the Star Sports show 'Follow the Blues', Pathan had the following to say about Pandya's return to India's T20I squad:
"Hardik Pandya is extremely valuable. He has the ability to finish the game at the death, he can do that batting up the order as well. The management will definitely have this in their mind. The way Hardik bats, he can hit sixes anytime."
The former India all-rounder added that Pandya has also shown the ability to play a slightly more conservative game during IPL 2022. He explained:
"He also found a way to play along the ground and because of that, his IPL season has been very good as a batter. With him coming in, you don't have one but three finishers in the team."
Pathan concluded by observing that Pandya's return gives Team India plenty of options in the finishing department. He elaborated:
"You can talk about Rishabh Pant - he can play the role of a finisher, Dinesh Karthik has been picked as a finisher, it will have to be seen if he gets a place in the XI or not but there are options available. We have tried to fill up the area we have been found slightly wanting in. So I am very excited with him (Hardik's) coming in."
It will be interesting to see if the Indian team management plays the trio of Pandya, Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik together in the playing XI. They may opt to go that route to address Team India's recent finishing concerns.
"There is no other competition or option once he starts bowling" - Aakash Chopra on Hardik Pandya
Aakash Chopra has pointed out that Pandya brings unique skills to the table for Team India. He observed:
"Hardik Pandya in my opinion, not only in T20s, is an important asset for India in white-ball cricket. There is no other competition or option once he starts bowling, you have tried many but there is no one like him."
Pandya gave a decent account of himself with the ball for the Titans in IPL 2022. His spell of 3/17 in the all-important final was a game-defining performance.
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