Hardik Pandya will look to make a big statement on the limited overs’ tour to Sri Lanka after being dropped from the Test team to England. Hardik is one of the most destructive lower-order batsmen in world cricket and has the ability to change the course of any match in the matter of overs. However, it is his bowling which will be as much under observation in the island nation as his batting with the all-rounder easing into it post his back surgery. Cricketnext spoke to Hardik’s childhood coach Jitendra Singh on the superstars’s return with the ball and what he expected of the Indian all-rounder.
Hardik has played 11 Tests and picked 17 wickets for India but it is in limited overs cricket where his record with the ball stands out. He has bagged 55 wickets in as many ODI innings at a restrictive economy rate of 5.56 and 41 wickets in 44 innings at a strike rate of 19.5 and economy rate of 8.17 in T20I cricket - very impressive numbers for a batting all-rounder.
His coach, Jitendra Singh, however was not too surprised by the good performance of Hardik the bowler and stated that he had all the necessary ingredients to be successful with the ball.
“He always had the pace and swing and a special passion for fast bowling. Those three factors are critical if anyone wants to excel in international cricket. He always had that potential and has worked a lot on his bowling. So, I am not surprised," said Jitendra.
Jitendra, however, felt that Hardik the bowler had not reached his true potential yet and still had a lot to offer.
“On the contrary, he hasn’t performed as well as I expected him to. He has got enormous potential purely as a bowler."
Hardik was India’s premier all-rounder in Test cricket before a back injury stalled his career in late 2018 and he hasn’t bowled with the red cherry for India since Southampton in 2018. Jitendra defied critics and stated that Hardik can make a comeback as a world class Test all-rounder if he could do minor tweaks to his bowling action.
“If he has to play in Test cricket for a longer duration, he has to work a lot on his remodeled action. I remember, he was dropped after the T20 world cup in 2016 and after that he didn’t have a great IPL either. Then, we worked together in Baroda on his action. After that, he was selected for an India A tour and went to Australia and got his rhythm back. If Hardik keeps working on his action he will be fine," stated Jitendra.
Jitendra added that the demands and rigour of international cricket make it difficult for a bowler to practice and master his action but was confident that Hardik the Test bowler would make a return for India.
“We must not forget the fact that he has been a late-bloomer as a pacer and the muscles will take time to adjust to the workload. Because of the crowded international calendar, sometimes it is tough to work on the action of a player. As a coach, my dream has always been to see him play more Tests and I do believe that he will play many more as an allrounder," added Jitendra.