Hardik Pandya has been showered with praises for his heroics against Pakistan in Asia Cup on Sunday. Joining the bandwagon, former India opener Wasim Jaffer has called the all-rounder an ‘invaluable’ asset for the Indian team.
Speaking in a post-match show on CrickTracker, Jaffer said that it was great to see Hardik in good form both with the bat and the bowl.
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“He’s playing an important role and he is an invaluable player in this Indian team,” Jaffer said before adding that it was because of Hardik’s contribution that India could afford to play without a premium bowler.
The former India opener added that Hardik’s presence in the team gives the luxury of playing with an extra batter in the middle order.
“I think India can play a lesser seamer in the coming matches. Maybe the team can drop Avesh Khan and play Deepak Hooda to strengthen the middle order or can go with Ravi Bishnoi, considering the big ground [dimensions] in mind. You will only get this option when Hardik is bowling," he said.
Former Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur also hailed Hardik’s performance and said that playing with him on the side was parallel to playing with 12 players. Speaking to CricInfo, Arthur compared the all-rounder to South African legend Jacque Kallis and added, “You have a guy who can be one of your four seamers and bat in your top-five."
Chasing Pakistan’s target of 148, India appeared to be reeling at 89 for 4 in the 15th over when Hardik Pandya joined Ravindra Jadeja on the crease The duo stitched a crucial 52-run partnership while pacing up the scoring rate in the death overs. With just 7 needed off the final over, India looked set for a comfortable victory before a hiccup in the form of Jadeja’s dismissal arrived. The left-hander was cleaned up by Shadab Khan on the first delivery of the 20th over.
After Dinesh Karthik took a single on the next ball Hardik was back on the crease with India needing 6 off the final three deliveries. However, Hardik did not make the India fans wait much longer and hit the next delivery for a six taking his side past the winning line.
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