'He can do what Shastri did in 1985. Wrap him in cotton wool': Gavaskar identifies 'match-winner' for India at T20 WC
Reacting to the squad, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar looked extremely satisfied and feels the current unit has what it takes to go the distance and win the World Cup, while reserving a huge praise for a special player.
The buzz surrounding the India's squad for the T20 World Cup ended on Monday, with the BCCI announcing the 15 players who will travel to Australia for the ICC event staring October 16. And with it, the room for experimentation ended as well as most of the consistent performers and potential match-winners were given a chance to represent India in the marquee tournament. Reacting to the squad, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar looked extremely satisfied and feels the current unit has what it takes to go the distance and win the World Cup, while reserving a huge praise for a special player.
Hardik Pandya has become the answer to India's all-rounder requirements in T20I cricket. He has played the role of fifth bowler to perfection in many matches, if not all and also produced match winning knocks with the bat. Look no further than what he did against Pakistan in the Asia Cup, first picking up three important wickets and then finishing the game off for India.
Adding on to the great compliments and accolades on Pandya in recent times, Gavaskar has hailed the inclusion of star all-rounder in India's squad for the World Cup and drew comparisons with Ravi Shastri. The India legend believes Pandya can be highly impactful for India in the World Cup and could very well emulate what Shastri achieved for India in the 1985 World Championship in Australia.
"Yes, I think he could possibly do what Ravi Shastri did in 1985 where Ravi was the outstanding performer with both bat and ball in the entire tournament. Some good catches as well. Hardik Pandya is capable of doing that," Gavaskar said in an interaction with India Today.
Shastri had an amazing run in the 1985 World Championship where he shone with both the bat and the ball and was declared the Player of the series. He had scored 182 runs in just five matches in the tournament, including three half-centuries and picked up eight wickets at a great economy rate of 3.32. In the final against Pakistan, he had scored 63 runs and taken one wicket too as India had won the tournament under Gavaskar's captaincy.
The former India captain further highlighted Pandya's impressive fielding to predict his impact in the upcoming T20 World Cup.
"It has been a few months since he has returned from a back injury. So we must wrap him in a cotton wool and use him because he can be our match-winner with the bat, with the ball. So we must use him judiciously. Don't forget, at mid-off, he affects some electrifying run-outs as well. Direct hits at the bowler's end, catching the batter inches short. It's not just the bowling and the batting aspects of Hardik Pandya, the fielding aspect that could turn the game India's way. I won't be surprised if he is like the Ravi Shastri of 1985, if he is like the Champion of Champions," the former India cricketer added.
Pandya's career and maturity has seen a dramatic shift since his appointment as captain of IPL franchise Gujarat Titans. Banking on his potential with the bat and ball, the 28-year-old also impressed with his leadership skills and had won the first IPL title for the Titans earlier this year.