Hardik Pandya will be one of the biggest names on display for India during the limited overs tour of Sri Lanka. The destructive all-rounder has been in and out of the Indian set-up due to multiple back problems and will be hoping to contribute with the bat and ball in the island nation. Despite being one of the few players in the squad who represents India in all formats he was not considered for the role of captain for the tour. In an Exclusive with Cricketnext, his childhood coach Jitendra Singh shared his views on the issue and also on Hardik’s prowess with the bat, his potential as a Test batsman and future goals.
Hardik - the Test batsman has scored 532 runs in 11 Tests (18 innings) at an average of 31.29 with one hundred and 4 fifties. One of his finest Test innings, albeit in a losing cause, came against South Africa in Cape Town in 2018, when batting at number 7 he blasted 93 off just 95 deliveries when almost everyone else around him had failed - the knock showcased Hardik’s prowess as a dangerous lower-order Test batsman who could mix caution with planned aggression.
Hardik’s childhood coach, Jitendra Singh had no doubts on the all-rounder’s prowess with the bat and stated that he had the technique, skill and temperament to succeed purely as a Test batsman.
“He can contribute. He has got the technique and temperament and maturity and if he gets an opportunity he can prove himself. The conditions don’t matter for him as his technique is sound and simple," quoted Jitendra.
Jitendra however was very disappointed that the management did not consider Hardik’s name to lead the side in Sri Lanka. He is one of the few players in the relatively inexperienced squad who has represented India in all three formats and is someone who is seen as a long term investment for the country.
“Definitely, I was. He could have been a great option as he can play for five to seven years. He has got new thoughts and has a lot of energy. He could have been a good investment (in captaincy) especially for the white ball format."
Jitendra believed that stardom had not changed the core of Hardik the player or person.
“No, he hasn’t at all. He remains the same Under-16 boy from the club days. To be honest, of late, he has taught me a lot of things because of his exposure and interactions with a lot of players and coaches who are active in international cricket. If you are a good human being, you will be a good cricketer as well. Cricket is a byproduct of your personality," said Jitendra.
On what were his expectations from Hardik, Jitendra stated that he wanted to see more of the all-rounder in international cricket.
“I want him to perform more as an all rounder. If his alignment and bowling action is better, he will definitely be. He is very serious regarding his bowling."