Former South Africa all-rounder Lance Klusener has emphasized the importance of having Hardik Pandya in the playing XI. The Baroda all-rounder has been in good rhythm since the onset of the 2022 Indian Premier League (IPL) season and is expected to play a crucial role in India's silverware ambitions.
Pandya spent some time away from the national team setup following the 2021 T20 World Cup. He devoted the time to regaining full fitness and functioning as an all-rounder once again.
His title-winning performance in the IPL for the Gujarat Titans (GT) earned him a recall to the senior squad.
A proficient all-rounder back in the day, Klusener shared his opinion of Pandya in an interview with the Times of India. The current Zimbabwe batting coach said:
"A fast-bowling all-rounder like Hardik Pandya adds glue to any white-ball side or to any cricket team. It's so good to have him back and is getting into the form we are accustomed to. The Indian team looks a different side when Hardik Pandya is in full flow."
Pandya played a vital hand in India's T20I and ODI series wins over England earlier this year. Apart from his contributions on the field with the bat and ball, he led India during the tour of Ireland in the absence of some senior players as well.
"It will be a great learning curve for a team like Zimbabwe to play against a top side like India" - Lance Klusener
India's upcoming tour of Zimbabwe marks their first visit to the country since 2016. A lot has transpired for both countries, albeit in different directions. The Chevrons have instilled a bit of hope into the squad with their qualification for the preliminary stage of the 2022 T20 World Cup and a series win over Bangladesh.
The Regis Chakabva-led side secured a win by a 2-1 margin in both the ODI as well as the T20I series against the Bangla Tigers at home.
Opining that a three-match ODI series against a top-quality team like India will help the players learn and grow, Klusener said:
"It will be a great learning curve for a team like Zimbabwe to play against a top side like India. It's a good challenge for us and an opportunity for our players to learn and grow."
Will Zimbabwe surprise a lot of people with a spirited display or will India continue their juggernaut? Let us know what you think.