Rahul, who sealed the number four spot for the World Cup opener against South Africa with a fine hundred here on Tuesday, said Hardik has grown immensely as a cricketer over the last two years.
"Being a fast bowling all-rounder he plays an important role in the set-up of the team, no matter what format. He does have the skill and everybody knows he has the skill. But how he has used that skill and grown in the last two years," said Rahul after his stellar knock against Bangladesh in India's final warm-up game before the World Cup.
Not long ago, Rahul and Hardik were embroiled in a massive controversy following their sexist comments on a popular chat show. Key to India's chances in the mega event beginning May 30, they both look in good shape having done well in the preceding IPL.
Hardik's role will be critical not just with the bat in the death overs but also as a pacer. Rahul backed him to have a successful tournament.
"His red ball form, he did well in England and also got a 90 in South Africa at Cape Town. Put under pressure, he has come up and delivered for the team. He is somebody from who the team expects a lot and he always takes the responsibility thrown in at him.
"Give him any role and Hardik takes it up with a smile on his face. He wants to do it for the team and gives his all. That's what makes him who he is. Someone who gives hundred per cent each time he is on the field," he added.