Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar reckons Hardik Pandya can stake claim for leadership role in one-dayers too after the World Cup this year, provided his side emerges victorious against Australia in the first ODI here on Friday.
With regular skipper Rohit Sharma set to miss the first ODI at the Wankhede Stadium due to family commitments, Pandya has been named the stand-in captain for the contest.
The 29-year-old all-rounder, who captained Gujarat Titans to title win in their maiden appearance in the Indian Premier League last season, is already the incumbent leader for India in the shortest format.
“I have been very impressed with his (Hardik’s) captaincy at the T20 level for the Gujarat Titans and for India when he is captaining the T20 side. I do believe that if he wins the first game in Mumbai, then you can almost stamp him as the India captain once the World Cup is over in 2023,” Gavaskar told Star Sports.
Gavaskar said Pandya’s presence in the middle-order is essential for India.
“He can be an impact player as well as a game changer in the middle-order. Even for the Gujarat team, he was promoting himself up the order knowing that this was the time when the team needed some momentum and push, and he would do that,” Gavaskar said.
Rohit Sharma (in picture) will miss the first ODI against Australia. PTI photo
“So, someone who is prepared to take on responsibility, lead from the front, and who will not ask the players to do something that he wants to do himself, is highly crucial,” he said.
Gavaskar added that Pandya’s captaincy style also makes him a favourite among the players.
“What you see with Hardik Pandya as a captain is a sense of comfort with the rest of the team. Maybe, it’s the way he handles the players, puts his arm around the players… He just seems to give the players a sense of comfort.
“That’s so important... to give a player a sense of comfort so that he can go and play his natural game. I think he encourages them, which is a wonderful sign.”
Faith in Rohit
Former India pacer Ajit Agarkar has backed Rohit to fire with the bat once he links up with the Indian squad after the first one-dayer.
“His record speaks for itself. You do not need to say anything about Rohit’s performance in white-ball cricket. He has taken a slightly different approach at times, trying to be the aggressor at the top of the order,” Agarkar, who is a commentator nowadays, said. “I just hope he plays every game that India plays from now on, every one-dayer, because you want your captain out there to just have a pattern of play,” he added.