Until three months ago, Hardik Pandya had never captained a senior team. The recurrent injury hindered his ability to bowl and also pushed him to the fringes on the national side. But Gujarat Titans, the newly inducted franchise in the Indian Premier League, still backed Pandya as their captain, and what transpired after that was for the world to see.
It’s not even been a month since Pandya led the Titans to the IPL title, and in a few weeks, he will be leading the national side for the first time, in the upcoming two-match series against Ireland. Pandya is currently playing as a deputy to the stand-in skipper Rishabh Pant in the ongoing home series against South Africa.
While India currently trails by 2-1, Pandya is having a very productive campaign, where he scored an explosive cameo in the first game, and then anchored the innings to take India to a competitive total in the last T20I.
With more prominent players set to be on red-ball duty during the Ireland series, choosing Pandya was a no-brainer for the BCCI. For Gujarat Titans, he was spot on with his bowling changes, backed his players to the hilt, and often played a very responsible knock to pull his team out of choppy waters.
This is a great opportunity for Hardik Pandya to enhance his reputation, and if everything goes well against Ireland, he will be seen as a prime contender to succeed Rohit Sharma in this format.
Wasim Jaffer, the former Indian cricketer, stated that Pandya should be the first captaincy option for India in the absence of Rohit Sharma. “I think he deserves that. Going forward, Indian selectors should look at him seriously leading in white-ball cricket,” Jaffer said on ESPNcricinfo. “Especially if Rohit Sharma is not available, I think Hardik Pandya should be the first choice.”
Shane Watson too echoed similar views: “It’s an incredible opportunity for him and an incredible thing for Indian cricket to know that they have got another leader waiting in the wings if they need someone to step up.”
Fans too rejoiced Pandya’s appointment as a captain, with many expecting him to usher India to a new era of T20I cricket.
Featured Image Credit: Hardik Pandya/Twitter