Ind vs SL: Can Hardik Pandya assume the Captaincy of the New Squad?

Handing over the captaincy to Hardik Pandya to lead a new-look Indian contingent on their upcoming white-ball tour to Sri Lanka might not be a bad idea.

With India’s heavyweights set to battle against England, this is perhaps the best time to dig into the talent pool. The selectors have an opportunity to see how equipped the side is for the foreseeable future in the absence of big names such as Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah.

Pandya is the best all-rounder Team India has had in the recent past, and his development since his debut in 2016 has been remarkable.

Although Hardik Pandya endured a lean IPL 2021, his ODI run against England, barring the first match, was a glimpse of what he brings to the table. With scores of 35 and 66 in the ODIs, Pandya caught the eye even though the focus was on KL Rahul’s resurgence.

The Pandya brothers play an aggressive brand of cricket, a facet straight out of Virat Kohli’s manual. There have been multiple instances when Hardik has blitzed quick-fire knocks and helped India cross the finish line.

Rewind to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 when he played a breezy 27-ball-48 against Australia. Sent ahead of MS Dhoni and Rahul, Pandya’s counter-attacking knock was studded with four boundaries and three sixes while Virat Kohli dropped anchor at the other end with a fine 82 off 77 deliveries.

When one adds scores of 46 and 45 in key games against West Indies and England, along with ten wickets from nine matches, the numbers indicate Hardik Pandya can do damage at any stage of a match.

Experience is also on the all-rounder’s side. Hardik Pandya has been part of India’s white-ball setup for five years now, and has grown from a rookie to a seasoned campaigner.

Injuries may have hampered his career, and his workload management is a topic of discussion every time his name pops up, but that doesn’t mean Hardik Pandya isn’t captaincy material.

Pundits believe Hardik Pandya is experienced enough to be allowed an opportunity to lead from the front. Former Indian cricketer Reetinder Sodhi feels Pandya is a suitable candidate to lead the side.

“Who will captain – Hardik Pandya? I feel he can be given experience at the helm because he has played very good cricket. The best thing is we have so many options that we can put together a second Indian team,” he said.