Hardik Pandya is very crucial for India, there are very few cricketers like him in world cricket: Irfan Pathan
"You need a player who can both bat and bowl to get the balance. It is very difficult to find the ability that Hardik Pandya provides to the Indian team," said Pathan.
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Irfan Pathan showered praises on Hardik Pandya for the latter's impressive all-round performance during India's third ODI match against New Zealand on Tuesday (January 24). Hardik scored a fifty and also shone with the ball to guide India to a 90-run victory at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore.
India posted a massive 385/9 with Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma stealing the show with centuries. But it was Hardik who played a crucial role after Gill and Rohit's departure as he smashed 54 off 38 with the help of three fours and three sixes and formed a defining 54-run partnership with Shardul Thakur for the seventh wicket.
The 29-year-old struggled in the first ODI as he conceded 70 runs at an economy rate of 10 but made a strong comeback with figures of 2/16 in the second game and 1/37 in the latest clash against the Kiwis. Irfan highlighted Hardik's all-round contribution and said that there are very few players like him.
"He is an extremely crucial player. You need a player who can both bat and bowl to get the balance. It is very difficult to find the ability that Hardik Pandya provides to the Indian team. You will find very few players like him in world cricket," Irfan Pathan said in the post-match show on Star Sports.
"He first showed his might in batting. The shots he played, the straight pull he hit - he was playing tennis on the cricket ground. It was an exceptional shot and after that also he showed his power and range in the other shots," he added.
Hardik Pandya did not have that much difficulty against the old ball: Irfan Pathan
After a good start, Ishan Kishan and Suryakuamar Yadav failed to carry on the momentum as they struggled against the old ball. But Hardik seemed comfortable and played his shots with ease. Irfan added that it is difficult to stop Hardik when he is in form and pointed out how easily the Indian all-rounder performed against the old ball.
"If he is in form, it is extremely difficult to stop him. The knock came at the right time and fast as well because the other batters were finding it difficult to score against the old ball, but Hardik Pandya did not have that much difficulty," said Irfan.