Sanjay Bangar opines on Hardik Pandya becomes India’s next white-ball captain
By SMCS - Jan 1, 2023 5:00 pm
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Former Indian batting coach Sanjay Bangar believes that Hardik Pandya is way ahead of KL Rahul in the race to be India’s next limited-overs captain. Pandya will lead the team in the upcoming three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka in Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul’s absence. He has also been named Rohit’s deputy for the subsequent ODI series against the same opponents, even though Rahul is part of the squad as well.

Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya played a flamboyant knock

During an interaction on ‘The Cricinfo Show’ on Star Sports, Bangar said: “Taking into account the kind of success that Ishan Kishan has had at the top of the order which means KL Rahul will have to fight for a place in the playing XI, and hence I feel that KL Rahul may not be part of the playing XI in 50-over cricket at the moment.”

He continued: “Hardik Pandya’s career graph as far as his captaincy is concerned is pretty good because the way he led his team to the IPL championship was fabulous. So it meant in the longer run he is going to be a strong contender to take over the reins from Rohit Sharma whenever the situation arises.”

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Meanwhile, the Indian think tank was probably thinking of Rahul as a middle-order batter apart from donning the wicketkeeping gloves at the ODI World Cup later this year as well. But, Ishan Kishan’s stunning double century at the top of the order in the final ODI against Bangladesh has given them another keeping option, with Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav for the two available middle-order batters as well.

Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya and Virat Kohli

Bangar was also asked whether Virat Kohli can reach 50 ODI centuries in 2023, to which he replied: “He has done that at a breathtaking pace because to reach 44 hundreds so young in his career is a fabulous achievement. But for me, can he do it this season taking into account the number of games that India have – maybe 26 or 27 if they eventually end up reaching the finals, then obviously there is a realistic chance that he can touch that milestone.”

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“He will have to bat out of his skin because as somebody who is playing all the formats, he will have to take regular breaks. I think the breaks will now be in the T20 format, not so much in the 50-over format. I don’t think he will touch it but he will get pretty close,” Sanjay Bangar concluded.