Former India player Sunil Gavaskar believes that Hardik Pandya will be a game-changer for Team India in T20Is in future. He even wants the all-rounder to bowl with the new ball sometimes as well. However, Hardik Pandya was left out of Team India due to fitness-related issues after the T20 World Cup 2021 and he had to undergo surgery as well. Later, he was appointed the Gujarat Titans (GT) captain and after leading his side to their maiden IPL title, he was recalled to the Indian side for the ongoing T20I series against South Africa based on his all-round displays in IPL 2022, including leading the franchise to the title.
During a discussion on Star Sports, Gavaskar said: “I think he is going to be the game-changer for India, more often than not, in all the matches that are due to come, not just the World Cup but every single match that India plays, whether he bats at No. 5, whether he comes into bowl at first change or second change. Sometimes I will actually want to see him with the new ball.”
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Hardik Pandya has bowled with the new ball on a few occasions for the Gujarat Titans (GT) in IPL 2022. However, for Team India, it is likely to be different considering the plethora of options they have as well. Meanwhile, Graeme Smith was asked if Team India need Hardik Pandya the finisher more than Hardik the bowler. The former player replied: “No, I disagree. You need the finisher as well but I think the all-round package of Hardik Pandya gives India options in selection.”
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“It might give you the option of playing the extra spinner or a bowler less and strengthen your batting and going into the World Cup, I think having him as a full-blown all-rounder is key to the balance of India’s team,” he concluded.