Shutting down criticism for the all-rounder Hardik Pandya, Muttiah Muralitharan opined that he feels Hardik Pandya couldn’t make an impact because of his concerns with injury. While stating that, Muralitharan also insisted that Hardik should continue playing in his own aggressive manner.
While Hardik Pandya the all-rounder returned to world prominence in the home T20I series against England, ever since then, the all-rounder has endured a tough patch of games, in the IPL and for India. More recently, in the three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka, the all-rounder returned with 19 runs in two innings, averaging 9.50 with the bat while striking it at just 95.
Moreover, with the ball, the 27-year-old was largely ineffective, picking up just two wickets in the series, averaging 48.50 with the ball. In the aftermath of his performance in the ODI series, there was severe criticism against Pandya from across the globe. However, former Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was having none of that, opining that the younger Pandya couldn’t make an impact only because of his concerns with injury.
"Hardik Pandya is a special player. If I was captain, I would have him in any team in the world – an IPL team, Australian team… any team in the world. Because he has got the ability to bowl at 140 clicks and he can adjust and also bowl slower. Because of the injury, I feel he couldn’t do much," Muralitharan said on ESPNCricinfo.
Many expected the 27-year-old to have a measured approach with the bat, staying at the crease and taking on the loose deliveries, as he did in Australia. However, his approach was one-dimensional trying to take the attack to the bowler, which resulted in his downfall. Muralitharan though stated that his expectation from Hardik is to bamboozle the bowling team with his batting abilities.
"Secondly, his batting is also special. We can't accept him to play like Nitish Rana, or Suryakumar Yadav… stay long and get runs. He is a short-period batsman who would bamboozle you with a 40-ball hundred. That's the expectation I would have from him."
"He might get out in the first two overs but if he clicks for 20-30 balls, he would score 50 runs. So that is the expectation from Hardik Pandya. If you make him play 70 balls and expect 90 runs, he would not be the same player," Muralitharan added.
The Sri Lankan legend also made an interesting comparison between Hardik and his former teammate Sanath Jayasuriya, stating that if the latter was asked to play at run-a-ball, he wouldn’t be successful. In making the comparison, Muralitharan stated that the all-rounder should continue playing in his own way instead of paying attention to the criticism.
"It's like asking Jayasuriya to open and score at run a ball. He won't be successful. These players can play No. 7 and 8 anytime. Put him in and let him play his own game."