Former Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan has backed Hardik Pandya to produce 'similar result' as Ben Stokes while opining that the current batch Indian all-rounder must consistently win matches for the team to be in line for comparison with the New Zealand-born England all-rounder.
Speaking on the Star Sports show Cricket Connected, Pathan feels that while India do have a variety of all-round option available, none have managed to make an impact like Stokes has done, who recently scored an uncharacteristic 176 and a fiery half-century knock while also picking three wickets in the second Test against West Indies in Manchester that made him the top-ranked all-rounder in the ICC Test rankings.
“We have potential in the country,” Pathan said, as quoted by ESPNcricinfo. “It’s not like we don’t have any potential. We have Hardik Pandya, we tried Vijay Shankar for some time. We have guys who bowl spin and are all-rounders like Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, but the kind of match-winning impact you want to have from a fast-bowling all-rounder, you need to make sure that these guys, the names I took, should come up, go out there and win matches for your country to be in the same league as Ben Stokes.”
Since his debut in 2016, Pandya has managed to bring that balance to the Indian team across formats that the management has been in search for. Moreover, former cricketer and Indian great Kapil Dev heaped praise on the youngster, opining that he is "much better" than him, back in 2017. But the Baroda-based cricketer has constantly been on the sidelines for the last one year owing to his back issues.
Pathan feels that for Hardik to make a similar impact like Stokes, he needs to bat up the order for Team India like he has done for Mumbai Indians in IPL.
“If you look at Hardik Pandya’s career, even in the small number of matches, he needs to go one or two steps ahead of what he’s doing at the moment,” Pathan said.” It’s all about winning matches. No doubt, he’s got all the potential, which he has, and in terms of support that he is getting as well [from the team].
“But, looking to bat higher up the order, then the team combination comes into play. He’s doing that – when it comes to batting up the order for Mumbai Indians and he’s delivering that. If it happens for Indian cricket, with the kind of combination that they are looking at, he might be able to produce a similar result which Ben Stokes [does]. But he has to do that, not just ‘we’re talking about it’. The potential needs to convert into performances.”