‘Pandya strikes like a dream, should be able to handle Shadab’: India’s former striker predicts

The versatile Hardik Pandya is going through a remarkable phase in his cricketing career. Until last year, his position in the team was a matter of debate as he suffered from severe back pain which prevented him from playing at full throttle. He was named in the 2021 T20 World Cup squad as the coaches hoped he would regain his fitness, but he couldn’t. After India‘s exit from the tournament, he took time off and went through a rehabilitation process at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.

Four months later, he was back in the IPL as captain of the new Gujarat Titans franchise. Fans were witnessing a brand new version of the Hardik Pandya who turned 50, played a full 4 plus quota and took wickets.

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After a victorious IPL season and a successful tour of Ireland, Pandya is seen as a potential future India captain. But before that, the in-form all-rounder will take part in the match against Pakistan at the 2022 Asian Cup on Sunday in Dubai.

While Hardik is expected to have a good game against his rivals, former India striker Sanjay Manjrekar believes the 28-year-old is in top form and likely to play well against spin bowling.

“Hardik Pandya has a very good record against Pakistan. If you also remember the 2019 World Cup, he was the one who got points in that game against Pakistan. Hardik Pandya right now is beating like a dream,” Manjrekar said during an interview on Sports 18’s “Sports Over the Top.”

“His (Pandya’s) prowess against pace and spin is there for all to see. Shadab Khan is quite a competitive bowler. He’s not the traditional wrist-turner you get; he doesn’t spin massively the ball but has the tricks you need in T20 cricket.

“He (Shadab) is also now more experienced than he said three or four years ago. But Hardik right now, as I said, is at the top of his game. So Shadab Khan – although he is a very good bowler – Hardik Pandya should be able to handle it,” he added.

Manjrekar further said that Pandya is not a good bowler but reads the leg-spinner quite well, adding that the latter can confuse Shadab Khan.

“He (Pandya) is not someone who is good against pace when the ball hits the bat, but against spin you can have him. I think he reads a leg-spinner quite well. So that shouldn’t be a problem for Hardik,” added Manjrekar.

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