India finished their ODI series against New Zealand with a grandstand flourish, as their batters ran riot and was aptly complemented by their bowlers in a hard-hitting contest where the cascade of runs seemed barely stoppable. However, apart from Rohit and Shubman Gill who helped India catapult themselves to the ginormous pedestal of free fire, Hardik Pandya played a knockout role towards the end, blasting a 38-ball-54 while also claiming the big scalp of Finn Allen who played onto his own stumps in the second ball of the very first over.
Pandya has been heavily involved in India’s action in both ODIs and T20Is and his contributions have helped the Men in Blue establish a reliability in the middle-order, a position that shook tumultously even in the last year. Not only Pandya produced those swashbuckling knocks but he has also learnt to place and time his innings to the prerequisites of the fixture.
Former Indian all-rounder, Irfan Pathan has been highly appreciative of how Pandya has been in excellent touch of late and has talked at length about what makes him such a valuable asset for the Men in Blue.
Talking to Star Sports, Pathan said, “He is an extremely crucial player. You need a player who can both bat and bowl to get the balance. It is very difficult to find the ability that Hardik Pandya provides to the Indian team. You will find very few players like him in world cricket. He first showed his might in batting. The shots he played, the straight pull he hit – he was playing tennis on the cricket ground. It was an exceptional shot and after that also he showed his power and range in the other shots.”
He further added, “If he is in form, it is extremely difficult to stop him. The knock came at the right time and fast as well because the other batters were finding it difficult to score against the old ball, but Hardik Pandya did not have that much difficulty.”
Pandya will be leading the Men in Blue in the upcoming T20I series against New Zealand where Rohit Sharma will not be a part. India will be up against the mighty Blackcaps in a three-match T20I affair where the visitors will be seeking to make amends while the hosts will be hoping to pack a powerful punch.