Indian cricket despite its staunch dominance in the World has been longing for a genuine seam bowling all-rounder to get the right balance in the team especially when on tour. While all the leading nations in the World have had one player or the other do this job really well and effectively, India still is in search of someone to fill the void. Well, we might have found one in Hardik Pandya.
Many came and many went in wake of pulling the strings and be that missing cog in the wheel but with little success. Going back a little, Ajit Agarkar, one of the finer bowlers in his era was tried and tested for his batting abilities and though he did deliver at times, never really was the consistent bet for the position. Agarkar, who was a batsmen before Tendulkar’s influence on him who turned him into a bowler came close, but not through.
The other name around that time was Ganguly. A confident leader who took the ball in his hand more than what he would have got under someone else’s leadership tried to be the all-rounder the nation wanted, but was not to be.
The other prominent names that spring to mind suddenly would be Irfan Pathan. Pathan was a bright spark with the ball and delivered when it mattered with the bat with some crucial innings late down or up the order as per the situation. But as it panned out, the Baroda lad concentrated too much on his batting that his bowling sheen was lost and a highly touted name stared down the barrel and the search still continued.
This was the time when the likes of Jacques Kallis, Shane Watson, Abdul Razzak, Dwayne Bravo, Chris Cairns were doing rounds; India were still looking to plug the gaping hole in their outfit.
Then came one from the famous Binny family and dropped hints of a probable answer, but was not to be. Stuart Binny never really could make a mark on the international scene despite making a mark in the domestic circuit. India still kept the search on while the captains managed to do away with spinning all-rounders.
And in came the one….
One name that broke to the scenes in the 2015-2016 season was another Baroda lad, Hardik Pandya. Having had a terrific outing for Baroda in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, delivering with both the bat and the ball, Hardik Pandya broke into the IPL with the Mumbai Indians inducting the game changing all-rounder in their setup. Hardik then had a decent outing in the IPL as he got his chance with the breakthrough knock being against the Superkings where he blasted Negi for 25 off a single over.
Pandya never looked back and broke into the Indian T20 setup. Being struck hard on his debut, he never gave up and came back strongly to claim a couple of wickets. From bowling that magical last over against Bangladesh to bagging Man of the Match on his debut against New Zealand for a brilliant spell, Hardik Pandya has grown many folds with the biggest noteworthy point being the ability to hold nerves and never let the shoulders drop.
Today again, while India were staring down the barrel, Pandya played a cameo to let India back in the game, albeit it was not to be tonight.
Having clicked with the ball and played crucial knocks with the bat to go with strong nerves and the right, positive attitude; Pandya seems like the answer India has been looking for or how mathematicians would say- “we found x”.
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