'He is one of the most important cogs in the wheel' - Shastri praises Pandya
Hardik Pandya in action (PC: Twitter)
Ever since making a comeback to professional cricket in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022, Hardik Pandya continues to grow in stature. Be it batting, bowling, fielding or captaincy, the star all-rounder has displayed his A-game on every front, living up to his true potential.
Ravi Shastri, former India cricketer and head coach, heaped praise on Pandya, describing him as one of the most vital members in the current line-up of the team. With the 28-year-old now back to full fitness, he is looking more puissant than ever before.
Shastri outlines Pandya's importance
"He (Pandya) is one of the most important cogs in the wheel as far as India is concerned. You take him out of the squad and the balance goes away. That's how important he is. You don't know whether to play an extra batsman or an extra bowler."
'It makes a massive difference' - Shastri speaks on Pandya's bowling
However, prior to the grand return, all was not rosy for Pandya. His back injury led to a struggle, forcing him to feature in the Indian outfit more so as a batter. Reflecting on it, the commentator stated how the Gujarat-born was missed as a bowler in the 2021 T20 World Cup.
"We missed him really badly last year in the (T20) World Cup when he couldn't bowl. It makes a massive difference. There is no one close to him when it comes to the quality that he possesses at that number."
With the upcoming ICC events around the corner, Shastri warned the team management to manage Pandya's workload in the bilateral fixtures.
"I think he is an extremely important player and has to be watched very closely. With the number of matches coming up, he is the last person you want to play in all those matches," Shastri asserted.
Pandya will be next seen in action in the 2022 Asia Cup as India gear up for the high-octane battle against Pakistan, scheduled on August 28.
Read more: Asia Cup 2022: Ravi Shastri backs Virat Kohli to silence critics against Pakistan