With Hardik Pandya added to Team India’s Asia Cup 2022 squad, former South Africa player Lance Klusener opened up on the all-rounder’s importance to Rohit Sharma’s team and also reserved special praise for him. However, after the criticism in last year’s T20 World Cup, Pandya has returned to his best of form, leading Gujarat Titans (GT) to the Indian Premier League 2022 (IPL 2022) title. After having regained fitness, he was also crucial during the T20Is and ODIs vs England this year and led the team during its Ireland tour.
While speaking to the Times of India, he said, “A fast-bowling all-rounder like Hardik Pandya adds glue to any white-ball side or to any cricket team. It’s so good to have him back and is getting into the form we are accustomed to. The Indian team looks a different side when Hardik Pandya is in full flow.”
Meanwhile, former New Zealand cricketer Scott Styris also lavished special praise on Hardik Pandya, commenting his leadership skills as well.
While speaking to News18, he said, “So, I don’t mind this for Hardik Pandya to be given some leadership in this side, whether now be the vice-captain or in the future as a captain because quite rightly what is the direction this Indian team wants to go, whether it’s T20 in terms of its brand, how do they want to play the game?”
“Because Hardik Pandya certainly has the personality of today’s player, where they want to go out and expand and show their skills and really just show off to everybody with how good they are. And I think that sort of leadership actually breeds itself and lends itself throughout the team to everybody playing with that style”, he again added.
During the recent third T20I vs West Indies, Hardik Pandya also reached the feat of 50 wickets in his T20I career, becoming the sixth Indian bowler to achieve the milestone as well. Meanwhile. he also believes Zimbabwe will give a tough challenge against India in the upcoming three-match ODI series.
Klusener told the Times of India: “It’s a series we all are looking forward to. It will be a great learning curve for a team like Zimbabwe to play against a top side like India. It’s a good challenge for us and an opportunity for our players to learn and grow. However, we want to play good cricket and we are asking India to bring their A game as well. If they do that, they may be too strong for us but if we play well and put them under pressure, then ODI cricket is a funny game and anything can happen.”
He concluded: “I think we would like to be more consistent from the batting point of view. Yes, we won the series against Bangladesh but we didn’t necessarily get off to good starts. That for us is a concern and we are going to need to pay attention to that before the India series. “