Pandya also brings balance into the team with his medium pace bowling and explosive batting which makes him an impact player in the middle order and former captain Sunil Gavaskar believes the all-rounder will prove to be a game changer for India during the upcoming three-match ODI series against Australia.
The focus now shifts to the ODIs after India retained Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2-1 with the series opener being played on Friday at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Pandya will lead the Indian team in the first ODI in absence of Rohit who will miss the match due to family commitments. Gavaskar sees it as an opportunity for Pandya to further stake claim for leadership role in one-dayers too after the World Cup.
The 29-year-old all-rounder, who captained Gujarat Titans to title win in their maiden appearance in the Indian Premier League 2022 season, is already the incumbent leader for India in the shortest format.
Gavaskar told Star Sports, “I have been very impressed with his 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 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 is the time when the team needed some momentum and push, and he would do that,” Gavaskar said.
“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.”
Meanwhile, former India player and commentator Ajit Agarkar has backed Rohit to fire with the bat once he links up with the Indian squad.
“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 said.
“Maybe, he changed it a little bit in the last series, giving himself a little more time and got the hundred. I just hope he plays every game that India plays from now on, every one-day, because you want your captain out there to just have a pattern of play,” he added.
(With PTI Inputs)