Former India opener Gautam Gambhir said that the national team needs to figure out an all-rounder backup for Hardik Pandya in the lead-up to the ICC World Cup, to be held in India. Pandya only recently returned to full fitness after earlier managing a persistent back issue for the past few years.
“They need to quickly identify a back-up for Hardik; if something happens to him, India will be in serious, serious trouble,” Gambhir said on “Road To World Cup Glory”, a show on Star Sports.
Gambhir also spoke about how Pandya had done everything that had been asked of him since his return, including a win as captain with Gujarat Titans in the IPL.
“He has been absolutely brilliant. Since he has come out of that controversy. Since he has taken over as captain of Gujarat Titans (GT), he has won the IPL. He has done everything possible that was asked of him, from the Indian cricket point of view. Looking at the World Cup as well, I think of the semi-final when it came to that crunch game, where India was under pressure (62/2 in 10 overs). And then playing that kind of a blinder. I think he has that X-factor. Hopefully, he can try and give that X-factor or courage to other guys as well. This is a very young side, they are fearless, and that is what you want to see in T20I cricket,” Gambhir added.
Former Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan also spoke about how Pandya would need to maintain his fitness going forward, especially if he was to become a force across all formats of the game.
“I was impressed with his approach and composure as captain, but India have to keep in mind one thing if they are going to look at him as a long-time captain. He has to be focussed on his fitness quite a lot. Whether it’s his duty or the team management’s, his fitness is crucial, especially towards the business end of major tournaments,” Pathan said to Star Sports.