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Hardik Pandya will be the most important player for India in this World Cup: Suresh Raina

Pandya the one who can deliver with both bat and ball has a bigger role to play for the team this time.

Suresh Raina of India takes the catch to dismiss Heinrich Klassen of South Africa
Suresh Raina of India. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Senior batsman Suresh Raina believes all-rounder Hardik Pandya could be India’s X-factor at the World Cup. Raina’s comments have come after Pandya lit up the Indian Premier League with his sensational all-round displays. The Baroda star starred with both bat and ball as Mumbai Indians became the first team to win the IPL title four times by beating Chennai Super Kings in the final.

Pandya impressed one and all with his effortless hitting, leaving many gasping for breath. The right-handed batsman pulled Mumbai Indians out of trouble on several occasions with his batting. He finished the competition with 402 runs while hitting those runs at a strike-rate of over 190. He also scored the fastest fifty of this year’s IPL to showcase his finishing skills. Pandya’s performance with the ball was also equally impressive. The medium-pacer finished the competition with 14 wickets to cap off a fine season.

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Raina believes that if Pandya manages to replicate his IPL form in the World Cup, he will be India’s ‘game-changer’. Not only that, Raina also said that he would not be surprised if Pandya goes on to win the Man of the Tournament award.

“He can field and bat well, can bowl 6-7 crucial overs. He can bat anywhere. He needs to get a lot of confidence from the management to express himself. If he can take his IPL confidence to the World Cup, he will be our game-changer,” Raina was quoted as saying on India Today

“I think he will be the most important player for India in this World Cup. I won’t be surprised if he gets the man of the tournament, should we make the last-four,” Raina added.

MS Dhoni – the leader

Suresh Raina further said that while Virat Kohli will be the captain on paper for India, MS Dhoni will be the leader on the field. Despite stepping down as captain across formats at the start of 2017, Dhoni remains an integral part of the decision-making group in the team. Not only the youngsters but also Kohli has been seen approaching Dhoni more often than not to seek advises.

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“His (Dhoni’s) role is still the same. He communicates with the bowlers from behind the stumps, coordinates the field placements. He’s the captain of the captains. Virat feels confident when Dhoni is behind the stumps. He has always acknowledged that,” Raina explained.

India, meanwhile, will kickstart their World Cup campaign on June 5 when they take on South Africa in Southampton.

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