NOTTINGHAM: Hardik Pandya doesn’t enjoy being compared to Kapil Dev. The allrounder, who took 5-28, to put India in a winning position in the third Test against England at Trent Bridge, said: “I am not Kapil Dev, never wanted to be one. I am happy being Hardik Pandya and please allow me to stay that way. I have a lot of respect for the legend that he is, but I want to be myself.”
Michael Holding is among the many critics of India’s decision to play Hardik as an allrounder. “Apparently they are playing Pandya as an allrounder to help out with the bowling. When he bowls he isn’t as effective as he should be,” Holding said during a recent interview.
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Till Sunday, the West Indian legend had every reason to say what he said. But during a one-hour spell at Trent Bridge, all that turned around.
Coming in to bowl deep into the second session with a cloud cover around, Pandya was outstanding with his length as he ran through the England middle-order to give India a very good chance of a victory in the third Test.
It was well-pitched up outswing bowling that did the job for the allrounder. He didn’t try to bowl too fast, just kept it around the offtsump and invited the English batsmen to go for the drive. And the ball did just enough to find the nick time and again as India ran away to pole position.
The rout started when Pandya had Joe Root caught at second slip off his first ball and then in a spell of three overs, he had 4-8 which decimated the English batting. “Pandya didn’t try too much. He didn’t try to hit the pitch too hard and just allowed the ball to do enough,” Holding was prompt to appreciate Pandya’s effort during commentary stint. But for the wicket of Chris Woakes, which came of a short ball, all his wickets were of well-pitched up deliveries that swung late.
Pandya’s performance on Sunday was a welcome turnaround after a bit of humiliation that he had to endure at Lord’s. Pandya was playing that game as the third pace bowler and he was taken apart by the Woakes and Johnny Bairstow on the third afternoon.
Later, during the press-conference, when he was asked whether he sees himself as a bowler or a batsman, Pandya bravely said: “I don’t think on those lines. When I bowl, I am a bowler, when I bat, I am a batsman.”
At that moment, he sounded cocky, but a week down the line, nobody was complaining.