'He has become an MS Dhoni type of guy, transformed into something else': Harbhajan identifies future India captain
It is likely that India will look for a new captain after the 2023 World Cup and keeping that in mind, former spinner Harbhajan Singh has identified a current player from the current Indian set-up whom he feels can usher Indian cricket in the new era.
Indian cricket is currently in great hands. The perfect blend of youth and experience that presently highlights the Indian team is just what it needs to secure its future. Under Rohit Sharma, the team looks set till the 2023 World Cup, but it is no secret that once it is over, Indian cricket will need to look ahead. Rohit is 35 and the captain of all three formats, and somewhere down the line, the hunt for India's next captain has begun. In the last six months, as many as 4 players have captained India batting Rohit – Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant and going forward, it is likely that one of these four contenders will be given the task of leading the Indian team in future.
With that in mind, former spinner Harbhajan Singh has identified a current player from the current Indian set-up whom he feels can usher Indian cricket in the new era. Having injected a fresh lease of life to his career, there is no reason why Hardik Pandya cannot become the next India captain, reckons Harbhajan. Ever since his comeback to injury, Hardik captained Gujarat Titans to the franchise's maiden IPL trophy in its debut season and ever since, the all-rounder hasn't looked back. And the kind of form he has been in lately, Pandya is a beast, scoring vital runs, bowling at 140 clicks and picking up wickets. So impressed is Harbhajan that he feels Pandya has started showing shades of MS Dhoni in his demeanour.
During a Q/A session with Sports Tak, Harbhajan was asked whether Hardik should become a future India captain, to which The Turbanator replied: "Yes, why not? He should because he has transformed into something else. He has become an MS Dhoni type of a guy lately. There is a calmness about him when he bats, and that only happens when you have faith in your abilities.
"The way he goes out to bat, there is a different swag about it. He has worked so hard that he knows he can win the match for India. I do see him becoming the captain of India and the temperament he carried the other day during the match, or during the IPL, he was brilliant. He has got all the capabilities to become the national team captain going forward."
Hardik has led India thrice – two matches against Ireland and one vs West Indies – winning all three matches. But like Harbhajan pointed out, Hardik is the man with a magical wand for India. He cannot seem to put a foot wrong. He breaks partnerships, picks wickets, scores runs, takes catches and is electrifying in the field.
A classic example of Hardik doing unbelievable things came on Sunday during the Asia Cup 2022 match against Pakistan, where his unbeaten 33 saw India home in a tense finish. Despite playing a dot ball in the final over, Hardik trusted himself, which was evident through his viral nod of the head, and smashed the next ball for six to give India a five-wicket-win.