Will Pandya be able to fill the void of the legendary Kapil Dev : The 23-yeard old Hardik Himangshu Pandya has hit the headlines with his excellent performance in the first of the three-match ODI series against the Black Caps at the picturesque venue of Dharmashala.
Resting players like Ishant Sharma, Mohd Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, all of whom did duty in the Test series, Team India included the likes of Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav and Amit Mishra for the limited version encounters.
Having picked up 15 wickets from 16 matches in T20Is, Pandya was a surprise choice that Dhoni brought in his Playing XI for the encounter.
The youngster was very much elated when he was handed over his ODI India cap by none other than the legendary Kapil Dev.
The ever-thinking Dhoni also added to the surprise element by introducing Pandya to use the new ball in the very second over of the match.
The start was not good for the youngster. New Zealand opener, Martin Guptill smacked the him for three boundaries in four deliveries. However, all was not over for the speedster. He bowled the final delivery, a full-length, a shade outside the off-stump. Guptill tried to jab the ball which eventually flew to the second slip and Rohit Sharma made no mistake.
Pandya had announced his arrival by picking up his maiden ODI wicket in his very first over.
Later on he went on to claim the wickets of Corey Andersen (4) and Luke Ronchi (0) to finish the match with the impressive analysis of 7-0-31-3 and without bowling even a single ‘wide’ delivery.
Apart from this, Pandya was also successful in troubling and intimidating the other Kiwi batsmen throughout the innings. He was also successful in generating pace bowling at 140 kmph, more often.
Nurtured properly and given opportunities at right junctures will definitely see this youngster from Gujarat serve Team India for a longer time to come. He would also be required guard against ‘overwork’ and injury.
Speaking to Ravi Shastri at the post-match presentation, Team India skipper, Dhoni said, “Fantastic performance from the fast bowlers. We had no clue it would help the fast bowlers. Hardik exploited the good length, a short of a good length. Umesh is somebody who has been quite quick consistently, he has gone from fit to one of the fittest. Hardik is deceptive, you think he”d bowl 132, but he crosses 135 consistently. Both Mishra and Axar bowled well. They did go for some runs. If we did not take early wickets, it was a 280-300 wicket. Important to bat in the middle, I was in no hurry. The more deliveries I play, the better for me. At times, the toss can be very crucial in this series.”
“Basically, our thinking was to use him (Hardik) as one of our three seamers and to give him a chance to exploit the new ball”.
For his wonderful performance with the ball, Pandya was adjudged the Player of the Match. Speaking to Ravi, he said, “On a debut, getting the Man of the Match is special. This moment I will cherish in my life. Very happy. Good to be back, I was nervous a bit, but I bowled a lot in Australia and the domestic season. I wasn”t looking to bowl fast, wanted to bowl with rhythm. On this wicket, I was focusing on a Test match length, a good length.”
Team India might just have found out another genuine pacer to join the rank and file of Umesh Yadav, Mohd Shami and who could also go on to don the Indian colours for a very long period of time.