In the ongoing World Cup 2019, Team India has won both of its matches convincingly. While there have been some stellar contributions from the star players, one cricketer has quietly made an impact and is looking better than he ever has – Hardik Pandya.
In both the matches India played – against South Africa and Australia – Pandya looked fluent with the bat and was hitting the ball cleanly from the beginning. His swashbuckling cameo against Australia at The Oval – 48 off 27 balls with four fours and three sixes – made the difference in the end and took India to an imposing 352-6 after they batted first.
Pandya, who was barred from playing for India earlier this year for his comments on a talk show, seems to be on a mission to prove himself. Ever since the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019, he has had a swagger about him the moment he walks onto the field along with steely eyes of determination. He appears to have worked very hard on his hitting game and is moving around the crease very well. In the IPL, Pandya, who represented the Mumbai Indians, had a strike rate of 191.42 and was hitting the ball as hard and clean as he ever has.
And now, he seems to have carried the form over to the World Cup 2019 in England. First in the match against South and then against Australia, Pandya was striking it cleanly and smartly – there wasn’t any blind hitting; it was a calculated assault.
This suddenly makes Hardik Pandya a dangerous proposition for the opposition teams in World Cup 2019. He is a floater and in terrific finishing form. This makes him the X-Factor in the Indian batting unit that bowlers need to be wary of.
Many former cricketers and experts have been quite impressed with Pandya’s pyrotechnics in this World Cup. Former Australian captain Steve Waugh was all praises for Pandya and even saw him playing a similar role that South Africa’s Lance Klusener played in the 1999 World Cup.
“…it’s the innings of Hardik Pandya that will send shivers down opposition spines. This guy might just be the equivalent of Lance Klusener in the 1999 World Cup. He can begin his innings like most finish, with clean hitting that no opposing captain can protect,” Steve Waugh wrote in a column for the ICC website recently.
Waugh’s assessment of Pandya might not be too far off the mark. Klusener had lit up the 1999 World Cup, which was also played in England, with his all-around brilliance – smashing 281 runs at a strike rate of 122.17 and taking 17 wickets at an average of 20.58.
Pandya might not be as effective an all-rounder as Klusener was, but he is undoubtedly on the right track with his hitting abilities. Initially, Pandya used to smack spinners during the struggle against quality fast bowling. But he is now even taking on the best fast bowlers with supreme confidence.
All eyes will now be on Hardik Pandya to see if he can continue his form for India in this World Cup and wreck many more attacks as he takes his team close to their quest for the crown.