Former India head coach Ravi Shastri feels all-rounder Hardik Pandya is an “important cog in the wheels” for India at the 2022 Asia Cup. The tournament is all set to kick off on August 27 in the United Arab Emirates. Hardik Pandya has been included in India’s 15-member squad for the tournament. He has been in good form for India this year in white-ball cricket.
Hardik Pandya was out of the Indian team since the T20 World Cup in 2021. However, he made a remarkable comeback to the side after his all-round exploits in the Indian Premier League 2022 season. The all-rounder led the team from the front to their maiden Indian Premier League title. He was included in India’s T20I squad for South Africa series following the league.
The 28-year-old also led India in T20Is this year against Ireland. He has scored 281 runs at an average of 31.22 in thirteen games and has taken eight wickets this year in T20Is. Speaking at a press conference organized by Star Sports, Ravi Shastri expressed that Hardik is an integral member of the Indian team. He stated,
“He (Pandya) is one of the most important cogs in the wheel as far as India is concerned. You take him out of the squad and the balance goes away. That’s how important he is. You don’t know whether to play an extra batsman or an extra bowler.”
Hardik Pandya’s bowling makes a massive difference: Ravi Shastri
Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya played in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 for India as a pure batter, instead of an all-rounder. His back injury hampered his bowling ability after which the all-rounder could not bowl consistently. Former India head coach Ravi Shastri expressed that India missed Hardik’s bowling last year at the T20 World Cup. He stated,
“We missed him really badly last year in the (T20) World Cup when he couldn’t bowl. It makes a massive difference. There is no one close to him when it comes to the quality that he possesses at that number. I think he is an extremely important player and has to be watched very closely. With the number of matches coming up, he is the last person you want to play in all those matches.”