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, but none went on to play for a considerable period of time. No wonder, Indian cricket fans cherish every bit of their newly found seam bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
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. Having made the fastest Test century in his debut series against Sri Lanka last year, Hardik recently scored a crucial 93 in the first innings of Cape Town Test 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, former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan feels that such comparisons are uncalled for since unearthing an all-rounder like Kapil is not possible.
“Firstly, it is not easy being a pace bowling all-rounder, especially after looking at someone like Kapil Dev. I find it really surprising when someone is compared to him because finding an all-rounder like him is not possible. But what we can do in India is nurture upcoming all-rounders. While we don't have too many pace bowling all-rounders, we have a lot of options in terms of spin bowling all-rounders,” Irfan said in an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda.
Amidst all the praise Pandya didn’t manage to sustain the consistency during the Test and subsequent ODI series against South Africa. The 24-year-old registered the scores of 1, 15, 6, 0, 4, 3*, 14, 9 and 0 in his next 9 innings after the Cape Town Test heroics. Moreover, he has managed to scalp only 4 wickets after the first Test against South Africa.
Pathan is glad that Hardik has got the backing of team management despite some inconsistencies. However, he feels that Pandya’s attitude will determine his future.
“Where he finds himself in the future will depend on his attitude, how he handles himself and his fitness. These are the things that will take him forward in the future and help him reach where he wants to," Pathan commented.
"The good thing to notice is the support that he has been getting from the team management, which is very important, because for any player to be groomed, he needs full support from the staff, something which Pandya has been getting,” he concluded.
Having sealed the ODI series 5-1, Team India will now take on South Africa in a three-match T20I series from Sunday (February 18).