Mickey Arthur, who has coached sides like Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, found similarities between India’s Hardik Pandya and South Africa’s legendary all-rounder Jacques Kallis. Arthur said Hardik’s current form with bat and ball makes it look like ‘India play with 12 players’. The former Pakistan head coach’s comments came after Hardik picked up 3 for 25 with the ball and then went on to smash an unbeaten 33 off just 17 balls to take India to a five-wicket victory in their Asia Cup opener against Pakistan in Dubai.
Arthur said, when fit, Hardik can play the role of a genuine seamer and he is also someone who can bat in the top five. Notably, Kallis, considered to be one of the greatest all-rounders the game has ever seen, used to bat at No.3 in all formats for the better part of his career and with the ball, he was an ideal foil to the South African frontline quicks.
“Hardik Pandya is a wonderful player. it’s almost like India play with 12 players. It reminds me of my time back in South Africa when we had Jacques Kallis. You have a guy who can be one of your four seamers and bat in your top-five. It’s like playing with an extra player.,” Arthur said on ESPNcricinfo.
An injury Hardik suffered four years ago in an Asia Cup match against had kept him away from the game for quite some time. Even when he returned he was never quite able to bowl at full tilt. For the better part of the last two three years, he has played as a batter in the Indian side, which at times, has hampered the balance of the side. But the Baroda cricketer made a stunning comeback in IPL 2022. As captain of the Gujarat Titans, he shone with bat and ball leading them to the title in the first attempt.
“I have seen Hardik mature and mature and his leadership in the last IPL was outstanding. He managed his team very well. He went in in crucial situations and played so well under pressure. He’s just blossoming into a very very good cricketer,” Arthur added.
Hardik credited former Indian team physio Nitin Patel, who is currently the head of BCCI Sports Science, and current strength and conditioning coach Soham Desai for his successful comeback. “That journey was very beautiful, we get the fruits of the journey but behind the scenes whoever has worked with me never get credit. So, I always believe in giving credit to the person who deserves it. Nitin Patel, Soham Desai, I will give credit to them for whatever comeback I have made,” the all-rounder said.