Hardik Pandya played a crucial role in propelling Gujarat Titans to the Promised Land as they went on to lift the prized silverware that teams have waited for ages to kiss. More importantly, he contributed in the field, saved crucial runs and also claimed imperative scalps at crucial junctures of the game that included an all-round showdown against the Rajasthan Royals in the grand finale.
It was an absolute treat to watch the Indian all-rounder back in the thick of things after a lean patch that was plagued with controversies and flak, riddled with ridicules after he was being picked by the Titans as their skipper. He turned the words around on their heels and belted out masterclasses one after the other.
Now comes in the ever-looming question that is it time to give Hardik Pandya a rise in the batting order? Well, for Gujarat it clicked and they rained down heavily upon the oppositions with their captain showing them the path alongside the illustrious likes of David Miller, Rashid Khan and Rahul Tewatia. However, there was a slight change in his approach that saw him from going bang bang to controlled aggression that would eventually turn out to be an exceedingly positive narrative for the Titans skipper.
When we talk about the Indian middle-order, going by the recent past against South Africa, India’s biggest pain was the aforementioned area where they would lose wickets in packs. The current middle-order includes names of Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Venkatesh Iyer, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant.
Virat is someone who would still get a handful of chances even though the recent form has begged a lot of questions. The following position is something that would lead to a lot of thoughts in the management with Suryakumar Yadav being deemed as the likeliest fit. He is a terrific form and even albeit the elbow injury, it is believed that India will be piling a lot of hopes on him.
Hence, for Hardik it would be a contest with the likes of Venkatesh Iyer for that number six position that was his usual slot in the team. The number five would undoubtedly go to KL Rahul if Dhawan is opening the innings and Rishabh Pant will be following suit. Rahul’s ability to anchor the middle-order makes him indispensable while Pant will be used to accelerate the run-rate.
For Hardik it is either number 6 or 7 if he has to currently slot in the team that is already filled with hard-hitting stars. Given the all-rounder’s newly honed skillset, it may not sit well with him but then India is currently sitting with a rich pool of talents, thanks to IPL.
If India is a part of two series simultaneously, then probably, Hardik can come out at number four, the role that he played for the Titans but unless there is a massive landslide for the Indian team, Hardik will have to come back in preceding role that is to come deep in the innings and bring out the heavy artillery where India can probably add up 50 odd runs in the last four overs.