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Hardik Pandya, putting wool over all our eyes

Over the past few months, Hardik Pandya has been the newest occupant of the media hype train, and it is easy to see why. He’s young (just 22), athletic, sports funky hair and is seen as the solution to India’s long-standing search for a pace-bowling all-rounder. Alas, it all seems to be too much, too soon for Pandya, and a closer look at his recent performances suggests just that.

Pandya’s record with both bat and ball is mediocre in first-class games for Baroda. However it is in List A games (particularly the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy) that Pandya did particularly well in, earning himself a T20I call-up at the start of this year. He has played 16 T20Is since and has a meagre batting average of just over 11 along with a very decent haul of 15 wickets. It’s obvious that a lot is left to be desired in Pandya’s batting abilities, as he is clearly not anywhere close to being international standard.

Pandya’s shining night for the Men in Blue came against Bangladesh in the recently-concluded World T20 tournament when he picked up two wickets and effected a run-out in the final three balls of a group stage match against Bangladesh, as India claimed a memorable one-run victory. However more than Pandya, it was luck and skipper MS Dhoni who can claim credit for that thrilling win. Lest we forget, Pandya conceded two boundaries in that over, and his two wickets came off full tosses – more the error of batsmen than the skill of a bowler.

In this season’s IPL too, Pandya has flattered to deceive. Batting at No.3 for the Mumbai Indians, he has scored just 20 runs in three games and has picked up just one wicket, having never bowled more than half his alloted quota of overs in a single match.

Hardik Pandya is more hype that substance. Comparisons to Jacques Kallis are foolhardy and even to Shane Watson and Ben Stokes a bit premature. Pandya does have potential, but currently he is likely to head into the same obscurity that Irfan Pathan did.

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