'I saw Hardik's photograph on the billboard today and…': Legend Kapil Dev rates Pandya's fitness after India's defeat to WI
Hardik Pandya became the first Indian captain in 17 years to lose a bilateral series against the West Indies (at least three matches). India, the world's top-ranked T20I team, was unable to defeat a 7th-ranked side and a team that did not even qualify for last year's T20 World Cup.
On the contrary, the series triumph provided a shot in the arm for the West Indies - the two-time world champions, who struck another low in June when they were unable to qualify for the 50-overs World Cup - as a victory against the Men in Blue comes at the appropriate time as they try to climb out of the abyss.
As India was humiliated in Lauderhill, Florida, setting a slew of undesired records, the one man who came under fire the most was Hardik.
Despite leading Gujarat Titans to their first IPL triumph and a runner-up position earlier this year, some have poked fingers at Hardik's captaincy.
Fans and experts have questioned decisions such as not giving Yuzvendra Chahal all four overs in the second T20I and boosting himself up the batting order without creating returns.
Besides, Hardik's bat has been silent for far too long, and with two major tournaments on the horizon, many believe the star all-rounder's spot in the Indian squad should no longer be a given.
Having said that, Pandya brings something to the table that few of his Indian colleagues do: versatility. With India struggling to find excellent all-rounders, Hardik and Ravindra Jadeja have become nearly unstoppable.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain has stated that India needs fast-bowling all-rounders like Mitchell Marsh and Cameron Green. Unfortunately for Team India, Hardik is their only option.
Hardik is the exact embodiment of a fast-bowling all-rounder, following in the footsteps of the legendary Kapil Dev and, to a lesser extent, Irfan Pathan. Add to that the added benefit of captaincy, and Hardik becomes even more indispensable.
During Hardik's comeback, speculation over his possible reinstatement in the Indian Test team has gained traction. However, Hardik remains cautious, citing concerns about his body's current ability to withstand the demands of all three formats at the same time—concerns echoed by Kapil as well.
The former Indian captain is wary about Hardik's return to Test cricket. Despite this, Kapil expressed his desire to see Pandya play prominently in future matches in an interview with The Times of India.
"It doesn't appear like he will. I spotted his picture on a billboard today. I'm not sure if they did any touch-ups or not, but he appeared to have one of the best physique in the country.
Yes, he should play more cricket because he is so talented. If he is fit, he should also play Test cricket," Kapil told the Crichistory.com
'It's not like we don't have any all-rounders,' Kapil says.
Kapil, on the other hand, disagrees with Hussain's view that fast-bowling all-rounders are the only way forward for India.
He admits that finding impactful all-rounders may not have been India's strong suit. Nonetheless, there are some positives that the BCCI and team management may properly be proud of.
"I don't believe it is appropriate to compare players. We have created enough quick bowlers on whom we can rely over the last 20-30 years. That is more significant. Not only do you need fast-bowling all-rounders, but you also need spin-bowling all-rounders.
And you have some good ones on your Indian team. Jadeja is amazing, and Ashwin is doing an excellent job. So it's not like we don't have any allrounders," Kapil remarked.