'Better than Andre Russell, better than...': Wasim Akram, Ravi Shastri's surprisingly identical praise for Hardik Pandya
Surprisingly, two of the finest and most renowned ex-cricketers and broadcasters, Wasim Akram and Ravi Shastri had the exact same thing to say about Hardik Pandya.
Hardik Pandya is enjoying the best period of his cricket career. Since his return to top-flight cricket from injury, the star India all-rounder doesn't seem to put a foot wrong. And his performance against Pakistan in India's Asia Cup 2022 opener was a classic example of exactly that. Pandya not only scored a quickfire 33 off 18 balls but even picked up three wickets with the ball, which just proves how much of a utility player he has. Hence, it was no surprise that the cricketing world went gaga over Pandya's exploits with former players reserving the highest of praises for the star all-rounder.
Surprisingly, two of the finest and most renowned ex-cricketers and broadcasters, Wasim Akram and Ravi Shastri had the same thing to say about Pandya. After India's five-wicket win over Pakistan, Akram stated that Pandya is currently the best all-rounder in the world, miles ahead of some of his compatriots such as Andre Russell of West Indies and others.
"I think he knows he is one of the best all-rounders in the world right now so he works according to that. His mindset is set according to that. So he wants to get wickets when he comes, he bowls at 140-plus, and then he comes out to bat... he is a very important member of the Indian squad in all formats. In my opinion, he is the best all-rounder in cricket right now the way he is batting. Better than Andre Russell, better than all the all-rounders we have. He is consistent, and an electrifying fielder too. Overall, he is one of the top cricketers in the world," Akram said on Star Sports.
Surprisingly enough, former India coach Shastri's tweet about Pandya was on similar lines, as he too called the 28-year-old the best all-rounder in the world. "Needed the best T20 all-rounder in the business to power India across the finish line - @hardikpandya7," he tweeted.
And the assessment could well be true. Pandya's exploits the other night helped him break into the top five in the ICC rankings for T20 all-rounders, behind Mohammad Nabi, Shakib-Al-Hasan, Moeen Ali and Glenn Maxwell. In 2022, Hardik has played 14 T20Is, and scored 314 runs at an average of 34.88, picking up 11 wickets with best of 4/33 against England. Besides, he has captained India thrice T20Is – two against Ireland and one vs West Indies and returned victorious on all three occasions.