All-rounder Hardik Pandya is likely to be back in the finisher’s role for India despite having a lot of success at No. 3 and 4 for Gujarat Titans at IPL 2022. Hardik was the leading scorer for the Titans with 487 runs at an average of 44.27 and a strike rate of 131.26. However, according to India’s head coach Rahul Dravid, it’s not necessary that he will bat in the position for the national team.
“Hardik is a fantastic cricketer with both bat and ball – we have seen that for India in the past obviously. He has been very successful in white-ball cricket and has shown some really good form in this IPL as well. So it’s very pleasing to have someone of that quality that we can choose from.”Head coach Rahul Dravid said
“Without giving too much away – I’m not going to be telling the batting order before the game starts – but in general, sometimes the role that you play for your franchise matches with the role that you play for India, but sometimes you have to play slightly different roles for different teams.
“And it’s not only about Hardik. For all the players, some of the roles they played for their IPL franchises might be slightly different to the roles that we are expecting here based on our team combination.” Dravid added.
With little captaincy experience under his belt, Hardik led the Titans to the title in their maiden IPL season. From his teammates to the coaching staff at the franchise, everyone praised his leadership style, especially the freedom he gave his players to express themselves on the field.
“Obviously his leadership was very impressive right through the IPL”: Rahul Dravid
“I just met him a couple of hours ago,” he laughed, “as we had given the guys who played in the IPL final an extra day off at home. So I’m not sure what I can tell you. I just said hello to the guy.”Rahul Dravid said when asked about Hardik
But will he be part of India’s leadership group going forward? Dravid isn’t concerned about that. He is more pleased that Hardik is bowling again. Hardik picked up eight wickets in the IPL 2022. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, he bowled for about 20 minutes on the center wicket under the supervision of bowling coach Paras Mhambrey.
“Obviously his leadership was very impressive right through the IPL,” Dravid said, “but you don’t have to be designated as a leader to be part of any leadership group. At this point in time, it’s a good thing from our perspective that he has started bowling again. We know what that does for us, what kind of depth that brings to the side. So really, for us, it’s about ensuring that we can get the best out of him as a cricketer in terms of his bowling, his batting, and in terms of his overall contribution.”
In Hardik, India will have a familiar face in the finisher’s role, but the top order will bear a new look with both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli rested for the series. Against South Africa, either Ishan Kishan or Ruturaj Gaikwad will open the innings along with KL Rahul. The 5-match T20I series between India and South Africa is scheduled to start on June 9.