Ever since the retirement of legendary Kapil Dev in 1994, Indian cricket was in a desperate hunt for pace bowling all-rounder. There were many that made their name for a brief period of time, however, none went on to play for a considerable amount of time. No wonder, Indian cricket fans cherish every bit of their newly found seam bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
Given the way Pandya has performed in limited-overs cricket since his debut in January 2016, legendary Indian batsman Rahul Dravid has lauded the 24-year-old for making the most of his rare talent.
"Hardik came into the team because of himself. He is the one who has put in the performances and he is the one who has that x-factor. When you are a fast bowling all-rounder in India, there aren't many to compete with and that's the reality," Dravid was quoted by PTI as saying.
"If you are a batsman or a spin bowler in the country, it's tough because there are a lot of people you compete with. But fast bowling all-rounders, you can count on fingers of one hand, how many fast bowling all-rounders are playing in India," he further asserted.
The current India ‘A’ and Under-19 coach also said that boasting a fast bowling all-rounder is no less than a daydream for any captain and Hardik has grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
"When that opportunity opened up in the Indian team, we needed to identify that kind of person and credit to the selectors.
"I can go back to the earlier selection committee, when I first took over the India A job. I remember in Madras, even from that time, this thought was there that we need to identify fast-bowling all-rounder in future, Vijay Shankar, Stuart Binny played that role,” Dravid explained.
The former captain also recalled how Pandya had made the most of each and every outing while playing for India ‘A’.
"Hardik got that opportunity when Vijay got injured and didn't come to Australia and he (Hardik) grabbed it with both hands. He bowled quick and batted beautifully, in a particularly Test match, when were 40-6 and got 70, and credit to it he has grabbed it.
"So sometimes you know, sometimes it can happen with certain roles and specifics that people do get fast-tracked because the opportunity exists," Dravid concluded.
As far as Hardik Pandya’s credentials in international cricket is concerned – the Gujarat born all-rounder has represented India in 32 ODIs and 27 T20Is thus far wherein he has taken 35 and 23 wickets respectively apart from playing some handful knocks with the bat. Pandya, who made his Test debut against Sri Lanka earlier this year, has scored 178 runs beside claiming 4 wickets in 3 matches so far.