Hardik Pandya isn’t the solution to India’s problems at No.4

Giri Subramanian Roar Guru

By , Giri Subramanian is a Roar Guru

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    Ever since the great Kapil Dev retired from international cricket, India have been on the lookout for a pace bowling all-rounder to replace him.

    The 1990s was the worst decade in trying to fit an ideal all-rounder into the team.

    Manoj Prabhakar, who was at the end of his career, first took over.

    His bowling was on the wane, his batting was pedestrian at best, but Sanath Jayasuriya’s assault in the World Cup, and match-fixing allegations put paid to that experiment very quickly.

    Javagal Srinath, who was in the side primarily for his bowling, was forced to bat at No.3 in ODIs during this pinch-hitting frenzy, and managed a half-century against a strong South Africa, while Ajith Agarkar scored a Test century at Lord’s, but neither were India’s answer.

    Irfan Pathan was probably the closest to a genuine all-rounder, but he lost his pace within a couple of years and no longer commanded a place in the XI.

    Now, once again, India have unearthed a potential all-rounder in Hardik Pandya. He has been decent with the ball and fantastic with the bat in his short career, making both the Test and ODI teams.

    Unfortunately, Pandya is already being pushed to bat up the order – the same error made with Irfan – and in the third ODI against Australia, chasing a big target, he should not have been promoted.

    Hardik’s purpose in the side is to bowl seven to ten overs and score runs down the order. Seeing him promoting him up the order once in a while to up the tempo is fine, but he isn’t the solution for India’s number four woes, with plenty of young players ready to grab that spot.

    Manish Pandey is already in the team and is suited for the No.4 slot. KL Rahul suddenly finds himself way down the pecking order for the opener’s roll, which he had held successfully in all formats before the injury, and is another option. Then there’s Shreyas Iyer, who had a brilliant time during India A’s recent tour.

    Hopefully the experiment with Pandya at four was, in fact, just an experiment. He is an exciting talent who needs to be nurtured, as he still has a long way to go before he can become the bowling all-rounder India is looking for.

    When he is still a work in progress, pushing him up the order adds pressure for the young man – he needs to bat lower and should be groomed as a finisher.

    Pace bowling all-rounders are not that common in India and the team management need to be very careful in the way they handle Pandya.