Hardik Pandya’s talent provides balance to Team India, says Lance Klusener

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BCCI

Hardik Pandya’s talent provides balance to Team India, says Lance Klusener

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SportsCafe Desk

01/04/2018

Lance Klusener has heaped praise on Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya claiming that the emerging youngster provides the all-important balance to the side. The former South African star has also warned the hosts about Pandya's hard-hitting prowess against the bowlers once he gets going.

Pandya is easily one of the most exciting players in the Indian team and is closest to become the finisher that the side will desperately need once MS Dhoni decides to hang up his boots. The 24-year-old has played 32 ODIs with a strike rate of 118.73 including four half-centuries. he has also claimed 35 wickets in the same number of matches at an average of 35.48. The Baroda all-rounder also featured in 27 T20I for India.

However, his heroics in the limited-overs format didn't convince the management of his potential in the longest format and Pandya had to prove them wrong again, when he got a chance to don the white jersey in Sri Lanka tour earlier this year where he scored 178 runs in three Tests, including one century and one half-century. He is now handed a place in the squad for the much-anticipated series against South Africa and South Africa legend Klusener believes that Pandya would play a key role for India in the upcoming series.

“An allrounder of the quality of Pandya gives India the edge both with the bat and ball. He is an exciting talent who provides balance to the Indian unit. Pandya -a medium-pacer who comes to bat lower down the order – provides skipper Virat Kohli with a lot of options with team combination,” the 46-year-old told TOI.

This will be Pandya's first South Africa visit after debuting in the national side in January 2016. The former South African all-rounder has also warned the Indian to stay alert from the bouncers.

“I expect the South African bowlers to use the short ball against him. But if he survives those initial moments and gets his eye in, then Pandya could be lethal,” he said.

In 2017, Team India have played 53 matches across all formats registering wins in 37 games, ending the year successfully with 69.8% that was 67.4% in 2016. Virat Kohli's invincible form has been instrumental in this run and Klusner believes that the skipper will have to go big if India are to succeed in South Africa. Kohli had last visited South Africa back in 2013 when he had played two Tests scoring 272 runs at an average of 68.00.

“If India aims to win this series then Kohli will have to score. He would be tested and it gives our bowlers a chance to know how good they are when they bowl to one of the best batters in the world currently,” he said.

It will be a real challenge for the Indian team to score runs against the South African pace attack which includes some of best pace bowlers in the world like Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn. However, Klusener believes that India's bowling department could actually give them a slight edge in the series over South Africa. 

“Both India and South Africa have full strength sides to choose from. There is little to separate the two teams but I reckon South Africa will enjoy a slight edge in the pace bowling department as the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander are well-versed with the conditions. On the other hand, India have a well-rounded attack with terrific spin bowling options such as R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to choose from,” he said.

The first Test between India and South Africa will start from January 5 in Cape Town.

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