New Delhi: Coming out at No. 4 and then steering Team India to a five-wicket victory with yet another quickfire fifty, all-rounder Hardik Pandya not only displayed his match-winning skills, but also his versitility as a cricketer. And former India cricketer Rahul Dravid, aplauding his this very ability, reckons that Pandya has truly eveolved as a player.
After a stunning 139-run opening stand with both Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane notching up their respective fifties, the hosts quickly lost four wickets. And just when Aussies were on the verge of a ravishing comeback at Holkar Stadium, Indore for the third ODI match, Pandya stepped forth and let his bat do the talking.
"A good example about Hardik from my perspective is, he's willing to play situations and not just the natural game we often speak about. Credit goes completely to him. It's not about playing just the one way you want to play," he said on the sidelines of India A's unofficial Test against New Zealand A in Vijayawada. He's the one who has actually turned his career around," Dravid told in an interview to ESPNcricinfo.
It wasn't the ususal power-hitting shot that he went for, that he is known for. Steeping out at a surprising No.4 spot, the all-rounder resolved to a slow and steady game, and tried building up a partnership, something that the home team was definitely looking for. He notched up his 4th ODI fifty and then raced away to 78 runs from 62 deliveries to take India to a five-wicket victory in the third ODI match.
Dravid is obviously right when talking about the young Baroda-based player. In the first match, in Chennai, Pandya stepped in when India were wounded at 87 for five. He struck a whirlwind of five boundaries and five sixes to bolster India's faltering total to 281 runs. A recap of it would of course take you to the hat-trick of sixes. And then in Indore, he played a completely different innings. It is probably this maturity, versitility, that Dravid is speaking about.
"If he bats at four, he bats in a particular way. If he bats at six, he bats in a particular way. Tomorrow, he may bat at 80 for 4, like he did in the first ODI with Dhoni. That shows maturity and that's what you want to see.
"This concept of 'play your natural game', which I hear all the time, frustrates me because there's no such thing in my belief as 'natural game.' It's only about how you play different situations," Dravid, added.
The former India skipper in fact reckons that this ability of Pandya's makes him an apitome of how to bat as in when the situation comes forth.
"You have to learn to bat differently in different conditions, and if you can do that like Hardik is showing at the moment, those would be signs of a developing cricketer, someone who can make consistent contributions and not someone who is a one-off, who can produce brilliance once in a while.
"The aspiration and challenges set for a lot of India A players is to be all-weather players, all-situation players, all-condition players."
Team India will next face the Aussies for the fourth ODI in Bengaluru on September 28. A win at M Chinnaswamy stadium help India strengthen their spot atop on the ICC ODI Team rankings.