Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018 | Last Update : 07:00 PM IST
Hardik might find things more difficult from here. Once the comparisons start to flow, the pressures start to build.
He is the genuine article, the real McCoy. The modern cricketer with a penchant for winning T20s and ODIs with stellar cameos is a creature of the age. Even so, Hardik Pandya also has an extraordinary Test century to his name which was also his maiden first class hundred. But then that is also in the DNA of the new age. Given their remarkable ability to strike, the new age batsmen can rustle up a Test century as if it were an ODI or T20 game. This is how the positivity of the new era game has transformed the approach of the batsmen, made them think like winners.
Hardik might find things more difficult from here. Once the comparisons start to flow, the pressures start to build. From here, it will be a test of character, not of talent, of which he has aplenty. What might help him is his adaptability and his quick learning as he seems to have learnt to read the match situation.To be thought of as a Kapil Dev thanks to his all-round abilities, including bowling the seamers that look like dibbly-dobblers but are bowled cleverly and with an intensity which is only bound to help him improve along the way. ‘Keep it simple’ would be the advice seniors would give him. They would know how difficult it is to excel with both bat and ball, and meet expectations too.
Now, Kapil was a refreshingly clean striker of the ball with an extraordinary sense of natural timing. He could have been a Test batsman of the highest pedigree if he had had the mind for it. Bowling all-rounders of the age like him, Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee had the problem of their basic mindset not allowing the total fulfilment of their dual capabilities. Ian Botham may have been a great swing bowler but he probably didn’t suffer the quick bowler’s dilemma. He achieved more with his batting that the others didn’t. The point is Hardik is lucky. He is the batting all-rounder and should not suffer from the bowling all-rounder’s dilemma.
The impish delight at tipping the bowler over the wicket-keeper’s head was a giveaway of his youth. At a pinch he could time a ball so well as to send it from beyond off stump to the fence wide of long on. The effortlessness with which his lofted drives clear the fence symbolise the new age batsmen. Even a bat of lesser scoop like those defined in the new regulations may not hamper a sweet timer like Hardik. All bats would have to conform to the new regulations although the Indians and Aussies will have the privilege of using the ‘outsize’ ones in a couple of ODIs more.
The Baroda lad, who dropped out of school to pursue cricket, was instrumental in the Indians wrapping up the series quickly against the Aussies. His skipper Kohli was to explain that his promotion to number four was due to the match situation as the Aussie spinners were on and it would be interesting to see where he fits in the order in the remaining two games. Rahul Dravid, his coach on the A tour to Australia, was particularly pleased as Hardik tailored his game to the situation in the series. As Dravid well knows, it’s not always about playing your natural game.
Hardik’s touch and form were sufficient to speed up the chase and make Virat Kohli’s team doubly pleased at inflicting the knockout blows on home soil in this manner and talk of an ‘Ozwash’ is already in the air. India’s death bowlers, the double Bs — Bumrah and Bhuvnesh — who helped curb the Aussies after they started well in Indore, for the first time in three games, helped the team cause no end. Kohli’s sustained use of his left arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav despite the high cost on a good pitch were other factors that were pleasing about a series in which Team India showed shades of improvement over the performance in Sri Lanka against a weak side. It’s not often the Aussies are flummoxed like this in the ODI format these days.