Vote here: Can Hardik Pandya become a world-class all-rounder for India?
India's Hardik Pandya celebrates after scoring a century in the third Test against Sri Lanka (AFP)
Dubai - Indian chief selector believes Pandya has what it takes to be the next Kapil Dev
By KT Sport
Published: Tue 15 Aug 2017, 3:08 PM
Last updated: Tue 15 Aug 2017, 9:30 PM
With a magnificent hundred against Sri Lanka in the final Test, all-rounder Hardik Pandya well and truly cemented his place in the Indian Test team.
At a time when India were struggling to reach the 400-mark, Pandya came out and gave an outstanding exhibition of attacking batting during his 96-ball 108 (8 fours and 7 sixes) as he helped the team make an imposing 487 in the first innings.
Pandya, a lively medium-pacer, then got the crucial wicket of Angelo Mathews as India got Sri Lanka all out for 135 in their first innings. Captain Virat Kohli gave him only one over in the Sri Lankan second innings, but Pandya proved that he could be the rare specialist the country has been looking for since the retirement of the legendary Kapil Dev.
Now it's too early to speculate if the 23-year-old Baroda player will go on to achieve even half the things the iconic Kapil Dev achieved in his glorious career. But there is no doubt that his emergence has given hope to a team that is now seriously aiming to win their first ever Test series on South African soil later this year.
If Pandya can continue his progress, he can be a real asset for Kohli's team in South Africa where he would be the third seamer behind Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav.
With R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the team, Pandya's presence will also allow India to bat deep.
So far, Pandya has taken all the right steps.
Even MSK Prasad, the chief selector, has been impressed with Pandya's progress.
"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 Indian media during the team's third Test against Sri Lanka.
"I am very happy to say that our search for an all-rounder has been successful in the form of Hardik. 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.
"He has utilised the opportunity given to him and came out with flying colours. 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, who played six Test matches and 17 ODIs for India, added.
Pandya may never become Kapil Dev, but it will be interesting to see if he can be India's answer to England's Ben Stokes, the world's leading fast bowling all-rounder in the game today.
So can Pandya become a world class all-rounder for India?
That's our KT Sport poll today.
We have given you three options below. So tell us what you think.