Great to see Hardik Pandya getting full backing from Virat Kohli: Irfan Pathan

"Let’s give him some time. Let’s not push too much pressure on him," Irfan said.

Irfan Pathan and Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya and Irfan Pathan.

Baroda captain, Irfan Pathan has lauded Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli for believing in Hardik Pandya’s all-round abilities. Irfan raised expectations to another level and defined the role of a ‘seam bowling all-rounder’ when he made his debut 14 years ago, while Pandya did the same when he started playing for India last year.

The veteran showered praise for Kohli also because several players have been backed particularly since he took the reins of captaincy. Be it KL Rahul’s contribution or Kedar Jadhav’s, the confidence of being backed by the captain worked wonders for them. Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s evolution as players also has a lot to do with the captain showing faith in them. Pandya, though initiated his career under MS Dhoni, has become an important cog in Kohli’s unit.

“It is great to see players being backed. Sometimes, you always wonder, players, who were not backed enough and could have otherwise had a longer career. For any player’s rise, not just Hardik’s, the backing of captain plays a huge role. Kedar (Jadhav) for example was doing fantastically well in domestic cricket for so many years but he got the backing only under Virat,” Pathan was quoted as saying by PTI.

Not Kapil Dev or Ben Stokes, he is the first Hardik Pandya

Experts including chairman of selectors MSK Prasad feel that Pandya has the potential to become the next Kapil Dev. Many also reckon that he could be the player for India that Ben Stokes is for England. However, Irfan, who has seen Hardik Pandya since the latter’s junior cricket days, feels that comparisons at best should be avoided.

“I think he will be the first Hardik Pandya! Let’s not compare him with anyone. Let’s give him some time. Let’s not push too much pressure on him. Let him play freely because that way growth is bound to happen,” said Pathan.

Pathan’s own career

On his own career and the upcoming Ranji Trophy beginning next week, the Baroda skipper sounded optimistic. Pathan did not have a great time captaining Baroda last Ranji season where the team managed to win just two out of its eight games nor did his own performance impress as he averaged 22.44 with the bat and picked 11 wickets in six games at 41.54. However, he expressed that things will be different this season.

“This is a very important season for me. I want to give my all. At the same time, the focus is on doing well for Baroda and take the team forward. That’s my aim,” he said.

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