Sunil Gavaskar has dawn comparisons between Ravi Shastri and Hardik Pandya, stating the latter has the same match-winning abilities that the former displayed in the 1985 World Championship of Cricket. Gavaskar went on to elucidate upon the ways in which Pandya can impact a game for India.
With the Indian squad now announced for the World T20 starting next month in Australia, the Men in Blue's eyes are firmly set on winning the tournament for the first time since 2007. After the inaugural success under MS Dhoni, the side has failed to add to its collection despite showing incredible promise at times, including a run to the final in 2014. However, this time around India have the much-required pace all-rounder in their ranks capable of giving them the edge in the form of Hardik Pandya.
The 28-year-old was phenomenal in the Indian Premier League earlier this year, captaining his team Gujarat Titans to the title while scoring 487 runs at an average of 44.27. Since, he has been on a red-hot streak in the international arena as well, striking at impressive rates in the death overs while picking up wickets at crucial moments. His efforts have led to legendary former batsman Sunil Gavaskar comparing him with Ravi Shastri at the 1985 World Championship of Cricket where the country had emerged champions by winning all its five games.
Shastri was famously named the player of the tournament and awarded the 'Champion of Champions' title, on the back of three half-centuries in five matches and 8 wickets at an economy of 3.32. Gavaskar believes Pandya can emulate his former head coach at the upcoming marquee event Down Under.
"Yes, I think he could possibly do what Ravi Shastri did in 1985 where Ravi was the outstanding performer with both bat and ball in the entire tournament. Some good catches as well. Hardik Pandya is capable of doing that," he was quoted saying by India Today.
"Don't forget, at mid-off, he affects some electrifying run-outs as well. Direct hits at the bowler's end, catching the batter inches short. It's not just the bowling and the batting aspects of Hardik Pandya, the fielding aspect that could turn the game India's way. I won't be surprised if he is like the Ravi Shastri of 1985, if he is like the Champion of Champions."
Pandya will next be in action for three T20Is against Australia on home soil before skipping the South African visit and preparing for the World T20 where India's campaign begins against Pakistan on October 23.