Since the retirement of legendary Kapil Dev in 1994, Team India have always wished for a quality all-rounder who can deliver the quota of 10 overs as a pace spearhead or as a third seamer and can hit some meaty blows with the bat. In the last 24 years, India had unearthed quite a few seam bowling all-rounders, who showed a lot of promise but unfortunately faded away with the passage of time.
However, the 24-year-old Hardik Pandya seems to be in a different league as he is proving his worth with some spectacular showings of late. After proving his mettle in the limited-overs format, Pandya has now started to show the glimpse of his immense all-round abilities in the 5-day game as well. In the first Test against South Africa at Newlands, Hardik scored a crucial 93 in the first innings besides scalping 3 wickets in the match.
Even though Pandya has taken the Indian cricket fraternity by storm and many cricket pundits have even termed him as the next Kapil Dev, but India’s greatest ever all-rounder Kapil is still a bit hesitant to pass his judgment on the youngster.
"Time will tell, wait for some time. He has the ability," Kapil Dev was quoted by PTI as saying.
"The team has to see the right combination, that's it. When you have an all-rounder, that is always good for the captain, he has the option," he added.
The 1983 World Cup winning captain also praised the current crop of Indian cricketers, saying that the cricketing world is now looking up to India.
"These boys are professional, they are doing so well. We used to look up to other countries, today the world of cricket is looking up to India, it's a big change," Kapil said.
Talking the performance of Indian bowlers in the first Test against South Africa, Dev said, "They are very good, give them time, they will do far better than this what they are already doing. They are a good unit now."
During his playing days Kapil was deemed as a total team man and even now the 59-year-old feels that one shouldn’t single out individual performances since cricket is a team game.
"When you are playing, you play like a team, don't say he is better and he is not better, that way we spoil the team. Everybody has to play his role and everybody has to work hard," Kapil opined.
"In football, they say people who score the goal they are not the only people ... there are people who give pass, they are also very important,” he further explained.
Elegant India batsman Ajinkya Rahane, who boasts a very good in overseas conditions, was left out of the playing XI in Cape Town. On being asked if the seasoned campaigner Rahane should’ve picked in the side, Kapil said, "Only 11 people can play, you and me can't be a better person to judge over what the captain, vice-captain or team management decides, do you think we can do a better job sitting out, the answer is no.
"They must have realised and thought about that and that must be the best for the team. My opinion at this stage is not very important, important is how they win the series."
"You would have asked me the same thing why Rohit is not playing had he not played this Test, you would have asked me the same question that he is in good form and why he is not there,” concluded Kapil Dev.