There’s something that has become more and more evident since the beginning of the IPL, and that is the impact that Hardik Pandya has had on his team. Just in the previous game against RCB with the team needing more than 13 runs an over at one stage Hardik was still able to take his team through with an over to spare.
The best thing about it though was almost the sense of eventuality that surrounded the proceedings when Hardik walked out to bat. Throughout the tournament, Hardik has not only become the most significant player for Mumbai Indians but also the most reliable player. When in crisis with the runs on the board you have Hardik Coming in, smashing the leather off the ball and taking the team to a competitive total with such regularity it’s no more a surprise.
On the bowling front as well he bowls around 140kph and more often than not contributes well. Hardik has himself admitted in interviews that he works very hard on the bowling aspect of his game and the batting is something that comes more naturally to him.
Right now though, if we go by strike rates, he is among the best in the business and right now going neck and neck with Andre Russells and Keiron Pollards of the world.
What this does though, if we think about the bigger picture and think of it from World Cup’s perspective is it provides the Indian team with a weapon that they can unleash on the opposition at the end of the innings and get 50-60 odd in 5 overs (something Hardik has been doing consistently now).
This is precisely what India has lacked in their ODI team, someone who can tee off in the end and with Hardik showing such a rich vein of form he could turn out to be the guy that could tilt the balance in India’s favor. World Cups have been dominated in the past by All-Rounders (Lance Klusener comes to mind), will this be the one where Hardik Leaves his mark?