Hardik Pandya could be game-changer for India in 2023 World Cup: Aakash Chopra

"There is only one Hardik Pandya in the country," said Chopra.

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Aakash Chopra and Hardik Pandya
Aakash Chopra and Hardik Pandya. (Photo Source: Twitter and RANDY BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images)

India are set to host the upcoming edition of the ODI World Cup in October-November. This will be the first instance when the marquee event will be hosted exclusively by the cricket-crazy nation. India won the 2011 edition of the World Cup, which was hosted by them along with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In 2015 and 2019, host nations won the prestigious event and Indian fans will be hoping for that trend to continue in the impending edition as well.

Aakash Chopra picked Hardik Pandya as India's game-changer during the 10-team event. The former India opener explained the importance of the all-rounder and how his performances could have a huge bearing on the team's outcome in the big-ticket tournament.

“Let's establish the fact that how important he is for India. There is only one Hardik Pandya in the country, who can bowl fast, can bowl with the new ball, and in the middle, has the ability to bowl at nearly 140 kph, and then bats and there too has the ability to bat down the order,” Aakash said in a video on his YouTube channel.

“I really think that he could be that game-changer. His doing well is directly related to India doing well. If we have to win the World Cup, the focus will be on the all-rounders' performances, and among them, he is an extremely crucial cog in India's dream of success.”

A fast-bowling all-rounder and the ability to finish, there is no one like Hardik: Chopra

Hardik Pandya captained the Indian side in ODIs and T20Is against the West Indies in the absence of Rohit Sharma. In the first two ODIs, the Baroda cricketer scored only five and seven runs. He played well in the third ODI as he finished with a 52-ball 70* after starting slowly.

Hardik's form dipped in the T20Is, as he scored only 77 runs in four innings. Aakash Chopra, however, backed the 29-year-old to make an impact in the World Cup, thanks to his all-round abilities. Hardik took five wickets in the eight white-ball matches he played in the Caribbean.

“We try to find someone like him. If we get Shardul (Thakur), we get a bowling all-rounder. If we see Vijay Shankar and Shivam Dube, they are not bowling. So you don't get an all-rounder of that quality. A fast-bowling all-rounder and the ability to finish, there is no one like Hardik.”

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