Hardik Pandya is all set to lead India in a three-match T20I series against New Zealand, starting with the first T20I in Wellington on Friday.
This is the third time Pandya will be seen leading India in this format, after his stints as captain during the T20Is against Ireland and West Indies, and stand-in coach VVS Laxman was full of praise for the Indian all-rounder while addressing a press-conference on the eve of the first match.
“He is a fabulous leader. We have seen what he has done with Gujarat Titans in the IPL. Taking leadership in the first year of the franchise in the tournament, and winning the league is not a mean achievement,” Laxman said.
“I have spent a lot of time with him since the Ireland series, he is just not only tactically sound, but he is very calm on the field and that is something which is very important at the highest level,” he added.
Pandya has been in fabulous form with both bat and ball this year. As a batter, he has amassed 564 T20I runs in 2022 at an excellent average and strike-rate of 33.17 and 146.49 respectively. That also includes his valiant knock of 63 from just 33 deliveries in the T20 World Cup semi-final against England, which unfortunately ended up in a losing cause. He has also picked up 20 wickets in T20Is this year and that sums up how valuable an asset he has been for India in this format.
Laxman also went on to talk about the dynamics of a good T20 side and that hinted towards a transition that India might go through soon. After India’s crushing loss in the T20 World Cup semi-final against England, there are already talks that the Indian team management might opt for a totally new squad for the 2024 T20 World Cup while resting the senior players, and Laxman’s comments definitely hint towards the beginning of that transition.
“It is important to be flexible. I think in T20 cricket, you are required to express yourself and that is when you will be successful. I think T20 cricket has shown us over the years that the more amount of multi-dimensional players you have, the better for the team. You have bowlers who can bat, and batters who can bowl, and that is the way forward.
That has already been proven in T20 cricket, the more number of bowlers who can bat will add depth to the team and it allows a lot of freedom for the batters to express themselves. That is the need for the format and I am sure more and more teams will try to get that into their selection process and identify players who are multi-dimensional players,” Laxman further added.