Former Indian pacer Zaheer Khan praised Hardik Pandya for his remarkable comeback to the Indian cricket team after a six-month hiatus, saying that winning the upcoming T20 World Cup will be the most motivating factor for the flamboyant all-rounder going forward.
After leading Gujarat Titans (GT) to the IPL 2022 trophy last month, the 28-year-old Pandya was in exceptional form with the bat in the recently concluded five-match T20I series against South Africa, scoring 117 runs at a strike rate of 153.95.
He will now soon lead Team India in the upcoming two-match T20I series in Ireland. Recently, the all-rounder said that he wants to win the World Cup for India and Zaheer feels he has started his work towards his goal which will eventually make him a great cricketer in the future.
Zaheer Khan told Cricbuzz: “I did touch upon this beginning of the series where my player to watch out from South Africa series was Hardik. Purely because once the IPL is over, he was coming off the high as well of winning the trophy, he was in a different role, he was in the leadership role.”
The former cricketer continued, “So all those things were going to matter and the next milestone for him, ambition, motivation is going to come from the World Cup. He himself has been very vocal about World Cup is one of the things on his agenda.
His focus is going to be getting ready for that big one. From that point of view, the start has been phenomenal, this was important for the Indian team as well that he plans things around this.”
Meanwhile, Zaheer said that India head coach Rahul Dravid would have already made it clear to Pandya what they wanted from the all-rounder and that Pandya himself was now well aware of his team’s requirements.
Explain his point, he said: “Rahul Dravid was also clear about keeping a very open channel of communication with him we’ve seen it in the Sri Lanka series as well and the T20 World Cup followed after IPL 2021, around that time there was a lot of concern.”
He added, “Hardik has understood and analyzed what is gonna require from him, he understood the team’s needs, which is a big positive. We hope from the Indian team’s point of view he stays on his path and really charts his course towards that big one in Australia.”
Zaheer further said that leading the country is the highest honor for any cricketer, and suggested Hardik not overcomplicate it by thinking too much about the job.
He signed off by saying, “There is no doubt about his leadership qualities but leading your country is the highest honor for any cricketer so you just got to cherish the moment and enjoy that, rather than thinking about what’s coming next and all. Leading your country is something special and I’m sure that’s how will also be looking at it. Not overcomplicating it and thinking about how can I will be here for the long term.”
(With Cricbuzz Inputs)