India were in a hunt for an ideal all-rounder for many years. There were cricketers like Stuart Binny, Irfan Pathan who came and went. Ravichandran Ashwin became an all-rounder in the longest format too eventually. But a certain Baroda boy burst into the limited-overs cricket through Indian Premier League (IPL) for Mumbai Indians (MI). Pandya achieved all the success in limited-overs cricket and became a prominent name there. In the recent Champions Trophy, Pandya took the centre stage with his powerful shots in most of the games at No. 7. Now after smashing his maiden Test century in the third and final game against Sri Lanka, Pandya has more or less sealed his spot in the Test squad permanently. The chairman of selectors MSK Prasad feels that Pandya has the potential to match the legendary Kapil Dev, provided the all-rounder stays grounded.”If he stays grounded I am sure we will see him being compared to the legendary Kapil Dev in the times to come,” Prasad told PTI after Pandya hit his maiden Test ton that had as many as seven huge sixes.
Since Kapil’s retirement in 1994, India could never find a all-rounder of his calibre. When Prasad was asked if India’s search for a potent all-rounder is over, he said “yes”.”I am very happy to say that our search for an all- rounder has been successful in the form of Hardik,” Prasad, a former India wicketkeeper, said. The chairman is all the more satisfied that Pandya has now established himself as an all-rounder across all formats after his hundred and fifty in this current series.”He has already established himself in shorter formats (ODIs and T20) very well and this Test series has given him a good platform to establish himself in the longest format,” Prasad said.”He has utilised the opportunity given to him and came out with flying colours,” Prasad said. Asked what makes Pandya a special player, Prasad said: “He is athletic, exuberant and very positive in his attitude.
“The best part about him is that his basics are strong in all three departments –batting, bowling and fielding. He looks so graceful in whatever he does in the three departments,” Prasad added. Pandya has got huge support from the team management with skipper Virat Kohli making it clear that the 23-year-old was destined for bigger things.
“I don’t see any reason why he can’t do for India what Ben Stokes has been doing for England,” Kohli had said after Pandya’s maiden Test half century in Galle.