Former India player turned stand-in Team India head coach VVS Laxman applauded Hardik Pandya’s calm nature as a leader and termed him a “players’ captain” prior to the three-match T20I series against New Zealand which is all set to begin on November 18. The all-rounder is all set to lead India for the third time, with senior players like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and a few others being rested after T20 World Cup 2022 campaign in Australia.
However, Rishabh Pant will be the deputy and will do the wicketkeeping duties as well. Meanwhile, Pandya’s leadership skill was one of the things that made headlines from the 2022 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) where he led Gujarat Titans (GT) to their first IPL title in their debut season as well.
Soon after, he got the chance to captain the national side. He led the team to a 2-0 series win against Ireland earlier this year and was also did well in a T20I fixture against West Indies in the regular captain Rohit Sharma’s absence. Applauding Pandya’s ability to stay calm under pressure, Laxman shared his thoughts in a press conference before the T20I series between India and New Zealand.
VVS Laxman said, “He is a fabulous leader. We have seen what he has done with Gujarat Titans in the IPL. Taking leadership in the first year of the franchise in the tournament, and winning the league is not a mean achievement. I have spent a lot of time with him since the Ireland series, he is just not only tactically sound, but he is very calm on the field and that is something which is very important at the highest level.”
“There would be situations when you would be under pressure and that is when you are required to be calm as a leader. Also, his presence in the dressing room, and his work ethics are exemplary. The way he leads the side both on and off the field is fabulous. I think he is a players’ captain, he is very approachable. All the players go up to him and confide with him. I think that is something which I really like about Hardik, and he leads by example both on and off the field,” he continued.
However, Hardik Pandya has been in the race with others to take over as Team India’s full-time T20 captain when Rohit Sharma steps aside from the post. The team management is looking to apply a new approach in the shortest format and that could likely see fewer senior players in the team as well.
Meanwhile, the team had taken an aggressive approach and had seen results under their belt going into the World Cup as well. However, they couldn’t do well again under pressure and eventually lost to England in the semi-final.
— BCCI (@BCCI) November 16, 2022
“I think T20 cricket requires playing with a lot of freedom and clarity of thought” – VVS Laxman
While talking about the team needs to find the balance between playing freely as well as judging the conditions to play according to the situation, Laxman said:
“I think T20 cricket requires playing with a lot of freedom and clarity of thought. And how much time I have spent with these guys and watching them grow over the years into wonderful international cricketers, I think that is their strength. In T20 cricket, you are required to play with a fearless attitude but at the same time, it is important to assess the conditions and situations and fulfill the needs of the team.”
He continued, “It is important to be flexible. I think in T20 cricket, you are required to express yourself and that is when you will be successful. I think T20 cricket has shown us over the years that the more amount of multi-dimensional players you have, the better for the team. You have bowlers who can bat, and batters who can bowl, and that is the way forward.”
Notably, Laxman will coach the team in the upcoming series against New Zealand after head coach Rahul Dravid and the rest of the coaching staff have been given a rest after the T20 World Cup 2022. Team India are slated to play against the Kiwis in the first of three T20Is on Friday, November 18, at the Wellington Regional Stadium as well.
“That has already been proven in T20 cricket, the more number of bowlers who can bat will add depth to the team and it allows a lot of freedom for the batters to express themselves. That is the need for the format and I am sure more and more teams will try to get that into their selection process and identify players who are multi-dimensional players,” VVS Laxman concluded.