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One doesn’t need to have watched Pandya for too long to know that the flamboyant 28-year-old likes the attention. (File)

What Hardik at his best, and his possible alternatives, bring to the table

At his best, few do what Hardik Pandya does. His gifts are rare and several — like hitting the first ball he faces out of the ground; like whipping up a six-hitting carnage, like clocking 140 kph with his first ball; like seaming at this pace in favourable conditions. He can wear several garbs — that of the selfless, single-ticking sidekick for Virat Kohli; that of the tie-end-up support act for Jasprit Bumrah, a finisher with the bat as well as the ball. On seaming surfaces, he can move the ball both ways; on sluggish decks, he unleashes his cutters and slower balls; he brings balance and ballast, but only when he is at his best.

Pandya is like a lab-designed multitasking specimen of a cricketer, but for a body that wilts in the cauldron of international cricket. There could be players more skilled than him in individual facets. But as a wholesome package, men like him are rare. More so for a country where fast-bowling all-rounders rarely sprout; even if they do, not with Pandya-like pedigree. Little wonder then that coaches, captain, fans, or whoever is closely monitoring Indian cricket, keep a tab on him, even though he last played a Test three years ago, and his appearances in white-ball cricket are sporadic of late. Even in those games, he seemed like an imposter of his peak years. [Read the full article]





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