Shane Watson has lavished huge praise on Hardik Pandya, saying India's talismanic all-rounder is ‘way above’ Ben Stokes at this moment in terms of all-rounder qualities in T20 cricket. Stokes and Hardik are often compared because of their supreme qualities in batting, bowling, and fielding.
Oftentimes, there has been a huge debate regarding the best fast-bowling all-rounder among the current bunch. Unsurprisingly, Hardik Pandya and Ben Stokes -- two of the very best in the current generation -- top the chart. While Stokes has retired from ODIs to manage the workload and has an added responsibility as England's Test captain, Hardik has been flying high since returning to cricket in IPL 2022. The 28-year-old Indian has been frequently chipping in with the bat for a while, if not the ball.
Former Australian great Shane Watson, a highly-rated all-rounder during his times, has given his verdict on this debate. In a recent conversation with NDTV, Watson told Hardik is 'way above' Stokes at the point in T20s. Watson further highlighted how consistent Hardik has been this year, and how he has been helping his teams -- Gujarat Titans and India -- almost singlehandedly to win the contests.
"Hardik is absolutely at the peak of his powers at this moment. It is an absolute treat to watch him play. I love watching fast-bowling all-rounders who steam in and have a real crack. You know, the impact they can have and they can take the game away from the opposition at any time of the game, whether it is with the bat and ball," Watson was quoted as saying by NDTV.
"It is really pleasing to see Hardik playing like he is doing right now. And in regards to T20 cricket, Hardik is way above where Ben Stokes is right now. With the way Hardik is batting, his versatility while batting at the end, and the way he is bowling. Right now, at this moment, Hardik is the stand-out."
Meanwhile, Hardik has been rested in India's ongoing South Africa series, which they are leading by 1-0. He will be back in action in the upcoming T20 World Cup, starting October 16 in Australia.
Further, in a conversation with the Times of India, Watson went on praising the Indian all-rounder, saying the latter can single-handedly win the T20 World Cup in Australia.
"Hardik Pandya is a talented cricketer. When he’s bowling, the way he is paced up at 140s is amazing. He’s just got great skill and he’s got a great ability to take wickets and also defend runs. His batting just continues to go through the roof," Watson told TOI.
“He’s not just a finisher, he’s a power hitter too. He’s got all the skills. We’ve seen him in the last IPL. He can win the T20 World Cup on his own. He is truly a match-winner."