Aakash Chopra has highlighted Hardik Pandya's importance to India heading into World Cup 2023.
The quadrennial 50-over extravaganza will be played in India from October 5 to November 19 later this year. Hardik will likely be the only seam-bowling batting all-rounder in India's squad for the global event.
In a video shared on his YouTube channel, Chopra pointed out that Hardik brings unique attributes to the table. He explained:
"Let's establish the fact that how important he is for India. There is only one Hardik Pandya in the country, who can bowl fast, can bowl with the new ball and in the middle, has the ability to bowl at nearly 140 kph, and then bats and there too has the ability to bat down the order."
The former Indian opener believes the Baroda all-rounder could hold the key to the Men in Blue's success. He elaborated:
"I really think that he could be that game-changer. His doing well is directly related to India doing well. If we have to win the World Cup, the focus will be on the all-rounders' performances and among them, he is an extremely crucial cog in India's dream of success."
Hardik has amassed 1666 runs in 58 ODI innings at a decent average of 33.32 and an impressive strike rate of 112.03. He has picked up 73 wickets in the 72 ODI innings he has bowled in and has an acceptable economy rate of 5.59.
"You don't get an all-rounder of that quality" - Aakash Chopra on Hardik Pandya
Aakash Chopra highlighted that India's attempts to find a seam-bowling all-rounder like Hardik Pandya have been futile. He stated:
"We try to find someone like him. If we get Shardul (Thakur), we get a bowling all-rounder. If we see Vijay Shankar and Shivam Dube, they are not bowling. So you don't get an all-rounder of that quality. A fast-bowling all-rounder and the ability to finish, there is no one like Hardik."
However, the reputed commentator acknowledged that India have a few spin bowlers who can make substantial contributions with the bat. He observed:
"You get spin-bowling all-rounders, whether it is Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel or Washington Sundar. I am talking about white-ball cricket or else I would have taken (Ravichandran) Ashwin's name as well."
Hardik and Ravindra Jadeja will likely be India's first-choice all-rounders in their playing XI for World Cup 2023. It will be interesting to see if Axar Patel is also picked in the squad, considering he brings similar attributes to the table as Jadeja.
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