Irfan Pathan is of the opinion that Hardik Pandya, who last played international cricket in September, despite having the potential, is not in the top 10 all-rounders in any format of the game. Pathan feels that a reliable, match-winning all-rounder is the missing piece in the Indian puzzle.
An out-and-out IPL product who was labelled the ‘next Kapil Dev’, Hardik Pandya’s stocks have plummeted over the last couple of years, mainly due to the all-rounder’s fitness, which has let him down time and again. After a decent World Cup campaign - which saw him average 32 with the bat and pick 10 wickets with the ball - Pandya missed the Windies tour that followed due to injury, after which, in October, he underwent back surgery that kept him out of action for no less than six months. Despite being a regular feature in white-ball matches, Pandya’s fitness issues have also kept him out of the red-ball picture, with his last Test appearance coming over two years ago.
‘Not doing justice to his talent’ is a wide criticism that has come Pandya’s way ever since he made his debut and former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan also criticized the Baroda lad along the same lines. According to Pathan, Pandya has the potential but is a long way away from the elites. The southpaw even went on to state that, according to him, the Mumbai Indians star is not in the top 10 all-rounders in any format of the game.
“Ben Stokes has become No. 1 all-rounder in the world by winning matches for England. I wish for Team India to have an all-rounder who wins games for India. Yuvraj Singh was a kind of guy who was a match-winner. Having an all-rounder in the team is a different thing and I am talking about purely in Test cricket,” Pathan told Cricket.com in a video interaction, reported News18.
“Unfortunately, Hardik Pandya is not in top 10 in any format of the game for India. He has the potential, there is no doubt about it. If he has that calibre of an all-rounder who can win matches for India, Indian cricket team will be invincible. The Indian cricket team is way better than the rest in the world.”
India have searched for the ‘next Kapil Dev’ for a good part of three decades with little but no success and Pathan opined that a reliable, match-winning all-rounder is the only entity that India needs; the final piece in the puzzle.
"We have Ashwin, two wrist spinners and Ravindra Jadeja for that matter but if we have that one piece which can put everyone together- that’s an all-rounder. We have tried Vijay Shankar and some new would also come in future. I am simply saying India need a match-winning all-rounder.”