Sunil Gavaskar believes that Hardik Pandya can emulate David Warner when it comes to transforming himself from a Twenty20 specialist to a man for all formats. The 23-year-old had a hugely successful Test debut against Sri Lanka as he scored 178 runs from two matches to help India to a series win.
The emergence of Hardik Pandya was inarguably India’s biggest positive from the 3-0 series win against Sri Lanka. The 23-year-old shone in his debut Test series as he smashed a half-century in the second Test in Colombo and followed it up with a match-winning century in the third Test in Pallekele. He was deservedly adjudged Man of the Match for his efforts in the final Test.
With his performances, Pandya managed to prove that he is more than a limited overs specialist and that he can hold his own in the longest format of the game as well whilst not letting go of his natural aggressive game.
And on the back of his debut performance, Gavaskar believes that the 23-year-old can successfully transform himself a player for all formats, just like Australian David Warner. “It’s still early days but Pandya has proven that he has it in himself to succeed in Test cricket. He is a bit like David Warner. I believe that Hardik will follow Warner’s footsteps and become a successful player in all three formats of the game,” Gavaskar told NDTV.
Pandya’s efforts in the third Test helped India to a historic 3-0 clean sweep over Sri Lanka as Virat Kohli and his team clinched India’s first ever away series white-wash. And Gavaskar revealed the most striking aspect of the win as he said, “The most impressive aspect of this team was that they never took their foot off the pedal and the team wanted to win by the biggest margin possible. They enforced the follow-on in the last two Tests to win the games by huge margins and that tells you how ruthless they have become.”
“It was a tribute to the spirit of the Indian team and the determination that Virat Kohli has brought to the team. Some people will say that the Sri Lanka team was not strong enough but it does not diminish the credibility of this Indian team,” he added.
Apart from Pandya, the other big performer for India in this series was opener Shikhar Dhawan, who was named Man-of-the-Series for being the highest run-getter with 358 runs. And the former Indian skipper believes that Dhawan’s performance in this series will make it difficult for Murali Vijay to come back into the fold. “The fact that Murali Vijay will be back soon will keep Shikhar Dhawan on his toes and considering how Dhawan has performed in this season, Murali Vijay may have to wait for his turn,” said Gavaskar.
Now with the Test series done and dusted, the focus shifts to the ODI series between India and Sri Lanka with the first game taking place in Dambulla on August 20. And though India will once again start as favourites for the limited overs series, the former Indian opener offered a word of caution given that the hosts defeated Virat Kohli’s team in the ICC Champions Trophy in June.
“India should win the series, but it will not be this easy. We have to remember that Sri Lanka defeated them in the ICC Champions Trophy and they will have to watch out for the hosts,” Gavaskar concluded.