Hardik Pandya’s form with the bat since IPL 2022 has been revelation for the Indian cricket team. And since now he’s back to bowling at full tilt, it has restored the balance that the team desperately needed in the world cup year.
Another quality of Pandya that has added to his reputation is his captaincy. Leading Gujarat Titans, a franchise that made its debut in IPL 2022, the allrounder led them to a title win, giving the Indian team a timely reminder that he’s much more than his batting and bowling.
Australian Shane Watson, a top allrounder himself during his playing days, thinks that Pandya is at the peak of his powers right now and watching him go about his job is a ‘treat’.
“Hardik is absolutely at the peak of his powers at this moment. It is an absolute treat to watch him play. I love watching fast-bowling allrounders who steam in and have a real crack. You know, the impact they can have and they can take the game away from the opposition at any time of the game, whether it is with the bat and ball," Watson was quoted as saying by NDTV.
And the inevitable question follows: Who is a better allrounder - Pandya or England’s Ben Stokes?
On current form, Watson has no hesitation in making his choice.
“It is really pleasing to see Hardik playing like he is doing right now. And in regards to T20 cricket, Hardik is way above where Ben Stokes is right now," Watson, who played 59 Tests, 190 ODIs and 58 T20Is, said.
With the way Hardik is batting, his versatility while batting at the end, the way he is bowling. Right now, at this moment, Hardik is the stand-out," he added.
Lance Klusener, a legendary allrounder, had recently said while Pandya is a world-class batter, he thinks Stokes to be a little more complete player than the Indian.
“I think the questions around Pandya are not too much on his batting. It is about his bowling. Can he consistently bowl his full quota in all forms of the game? His batting is right up there with the best in the world," Klusener told Hindustan Times.
“I think Stokes is a little bit more complete than a guy like Pandya. But he’s (Pandya) learning all the time. In the last two-three years, the strides that Pandya has taken in international cricket are awesome. I don’t think he’s quite the finished product yet," he added.
In Klusener’s opinion, once Pandya can regulalry bowl his quota of overs, he will definitely be counted among the top allrounders.
“The sooner he gets to that (stage) where he’s completing all his overs all the time, I think we can definitely put him in the same bracket as all great allrounders. He is up there but not quite at the top now," he said.