The role of Hardik Pandya in the current Indian setup holds utmost importance because of his utility as a player. For his incredible batting skills and up to the mark bowling, the 24-year old is often touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket. Many cricket experts and critics suggest that the Pandya has it in him to end India's long search for a pace-bowling all-rounder.
However, in the ongoing T20I series against New Zealand, Pandya has consistently failed to live up to the expectations of the team management and his fans. In his last six T20I innings, Pandya has only managed to score 48 runs at a poor average of 9.69. In an exclusive chat to India TV, former India opener Virender Sehwag decoded the reason behind Pandya's failure and said that the young all-rounder should be allowed to bat his own comfortable position.
In the first T20I at Kotla, Pandya was sent at number three after the dismissal of Shikhar Dhawan to maintain the rate of the Indian innings. But, the Gujarat-born all-rounder was dismissed for nought. Sehwag said: "Hardik Pandya is generally promoted up the order to cash-in against the slow ball bowlers and spinners. There is always an element of risk is involved with the inclusion of Pandya in the playing XI."
The Indian team management followed suit in Rajkot when they sent Pandya once again ahead of MS Dhoni in the tense run chase. The move once again backfired as Pandya failed to deliver with the bat and was picked up by leg-spinner Ish Sodhi for the second time on the trot.
Sehwag said: "On his day, Pandya has the ability to tear apart the opposition with his belligerent stroke play but at the same time he will look completely out of sorts if he fails to deliver. He failed to pick leg-spin of Sodhi at Kotla and googly at Rajkot which resulted in his wicket."
Advising Virat Kohli and Co. to be patient with Pandya, Sehwag stressed: "Pandya should be allowed to bat at his own comfortable position - at no. 6 or no. 7. Instead of Pandya, India should stick with MS Dhoni ahead of him and should allow the senior pro to take his time in the middle to settle in."
Sehwag also added that if Dhoni would have come ahead of Pandya in Rajkot, the result would have been different. "In Rajkot, if Dhoni would've come ahead of Pandya than he might have built an important partnership with Kohli and it would have changed the outcome of the match," Sehwag said on India TV's "Cricket Ki Baat" show.
The former India skipper also quipped, "Pandya can kill the chase when the team needs a quickfire 30-odd on 15 balls or something similar, that's when the young all-rounder becomes dangerous."
On KL Rahul's inclusion in Indian team's squad, Sehwag says: "KL Rahul used to play as an opener in Team India, but Dhawan and Rohit have performed their duties aptly which didn't allow Rahul to find a spot for himself in the team. However, the decision to include Rahul lies with the team management.