Is captaincy inhibiting Hardik Pandya’s freedom with the bat?

Kartik Mehindru

April 20 2023
Is captaincy inhibiting Hardik Pandya's freedom with the bat?

Where is Hardik Pandya – The Batter?

When Hardik Pandya burst onto the scene in 2016, he was everything a modern Indian player ought to be – Flamboyant, hard-hitting, and unorthodox. What made Hardik Pandya famous, though, was the way he batted. Seeing him hit sixes against spinners felt like that was all he had done all his life. Who can forget those consecutive sixes to Imad Wasim during the Champions Trophy 2017 and the gigantic ones against Adam Zampa?

The situation came to a point where the opposition skippers didn’t really hand the ball over to a spinner till Hardik Pandya was at the crease. Slowly, but steadily he started hitting those kinds of shots against pacers. He single-handedly won the final T20I against Australia while chasing in 2020.

He was always a fairly good bowling option and has also improved with time. The errors that were seen during his initial run have considerably reduced, and more importantly, post his injury, he has been bowling his full quota of overs, more often than not. Since 2016, Pandya has taken 158 wickets for India in 164 innings across all formats for India.

Hardik Pandya With The Bat In Last 3 Years:

  • 2021

Average: 25.81 in 13 inningsStrike Rate: 137.19

  • 2022

Average: 35.35 in 27 inningsStrike Rate: 137.28

  • 2023

Average: 25.75 in 13 inningsStrike Rate: 98.09

Strike Rate In IPL Since 2021

  • 2021: 113.39
  • 2022: 131.27
  • 2023: 108.89 (After 4 Matches)

Captaincy & The Change in Approach

Ever since Hardik Pandya took over the captaincy of Gujarat Titans, He has batted with a bit more responsibility. He bats at number 4 for the franchise and instead of hitting from the word go, he takes his time and looks to take it deep and then finish it off with big hits. But has it paid off? Well, yes and no.

For his IPL franchise last year, he averaged a great 44 with a strike rate of over 130. This time, he hasn’t been able to hit the ball as well as he would have liked. These, however, are just 4 innings, the main thing to worry about here is his international numbers, he has an overall strike rate of less than 100 across formats for India and is averaging 26 odd runs. He has looked to play in the same way he does for his franchise, and that hasn’t really worked for him.

The fact that he comes in lower down the order of Team India, and the management expects a different role from him, isn’t helping his case either. Whether it is the pressure of captaincy or vice-captaincy, the sentiment that he has matured as a cricketer, or the that his game has changed, Pandya the batter seemed to have lost the golden touch that put him on the map.

With the World Cup around the horizon, Pandya will know it and so will the Indian management. How he and the team go about it, will be something to watch out for.

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