Recently, Ayaz Memon did a piece for Live Mint which spoke about how Hardik Pandya’s blistering knock during the first One-Day International (ODI) between India and Australia reminded him of Kapil Dev. 

“Pandya’s high backswing and follow-through in his strokes is similar to Dev’s. He’s got keen eyesight, razor-sharp reflexes, great sense of timing and total absence of fear. The last mentioned attribute is the key to his success as yet,” he wrote. 

Indeed, we couldn’t agree more. Hardik Pandya has come into the side, and cemented his place as a proven match winner who isn’t shy at the big stage. You just have to look at the ICC Champions Trophy final where India faced Pakistan, and were getting hammered black and blue. Pandya entered the scene, and for a brief moment, he looked like he would be able to pull off one of the biggest heists in the history of cricket. His 76 from 43 balls was chanceless, and it was Ravindra Jadeja’s moment of shame when he made the mistake of not sacrificing his wicket for a set batsman. 

With MS Dhoni dismissed in the 14th over itself, celebrations must have begun in Pakistan, a cricket crazy nation hungry nation starved for glory. Pandya started proceedings wisely, but not slowly. He had scored 36 from 29 balls, with India six wickets down and needing a mammoth 234 runs from 28 overs. It looked like the game was over. It looked like reaching the target was impossible. It looked like there was no point in even trying. The wounds of defeat at such a big stage must have sunk deep in the psyche of the Indian camp. 

But, Pandya showed character. He wasn’t the one to take it lying down, just like Kapil Dev’s 175 in the 1983 World Cup match against Zimbabwe. 

The storm arrived in the 23rd over when Pandya hit three sixes and a four off a Shadab Khan over. He started to look like Hercules. Angry, hungry and destructive. 

Things could have changed had Pandya been able to amass 6-7 more such overs, but it was not to be. Still, you’ve got to give him credit for trying. 

As a bowler too, Pandya is more than useful. He is not just someone you give the ball to so that your main bowlers can rest. He is a proper wicket-taking option, who can dismantle the best batsman in peak form. 

“Much like a young Kapil Dev, his action-packed performances have tilted matches his team’s way just when things appeared to be getting tight. For fans, there’s the promise of something extraordinary happening when he’s around,” writes Memon in his column.

We can only hope that Pandya can have a long and glorious character like Kapil. Who knows? He might even do better.