ICC World Cup 2019: Hardik Pandya is glue between batting & bowling; should play every match - Lance Klusener | Exclusive

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAritra Mukherjee
Jun 04, 2019 10:30 AM IST

In 2019, Pandya with the responsibility of being India’s finisher has the opportunity to make history repeat itself but this time in India’s favour.

Lean stature, flambouyance, an attitude to die for, and the ability to look the opponent in his eye – Lance Klusener and Hardik Pandya have a lot of structural and behavioural traits in common. No wonder, both play the same brand of cricket on the 22 yards. In his heydays, Klusener was not only a force to reckon with with the new-ball but his lusty hitting down the order was enough to strike fear into some of the best attacks of late 90s. In his short international career, Pandya too has developed a similar reputation.

File image of Lance Klusener(Getty Images)
File image of Lance Klusener(Getty Images)

Coming to think of it, Pandya has a higher probability of turning out to be the next Klusener than the next Kapil Dev. “Similarity with me? Oh I don’t know about that but Pandya is a real good cricketer,” were Lance Klusener’s words during an exclusive chat with Hindustan Times.


Cricketing resemblance aside, destiny too is playing a pivotal role in blurring the generation gap between the two all-rounders. 20 years ago, when cricket’s world event was last held in England, Klusener, three years after bursting into international cricket, played his first World Cup match against India. On Wednesday (June 5, 2019), Hardik Pandya, also three years into international cricket, will make his World Cup debut against South Africa.

In 1999, a carefree Klusener immediately left his mark on the World Cup by picking up three crucial wickets including that of Sachin Tendulkar and hitting Ajit Agarkar for two fours in the 48th over to finish the match.

In 2019, Pandya with the responsibility of being India’s finisher has the opportunity to make history repeat itself but this time in India’s favour.

“One aspect that India haven’t really had in recent times, is a quality seam bowling all-rounder. Pandya has filled that gap. That makes a huge difference to the balance of the team. You play two fast bowlers with Pandya at 7 and of course the two spinners, which were never a problem for India,” Klusener said.

Since Pandya’s ODI debut in October 2016, whether home or away, India have more or less fielded two specialist spinners in their playing XI with good results to show and that is certain to be followed even during the World Cup. If anything, India might field three spinners based on conditions, pushing Pandya to No. 6.

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“Pandya should play every game for India, he’s that glue between the batting and bowling and can make a whole lot of difference to the game,” Klusener added.

Among a host of similarities, there is one striking feature that differentiates Klusener and Pandya. Despite his ahead of the time batting style and unorthodox technique, Klusener is incredibly traditional and unlike Pandya, that reflects both on and off the field. That’s why he doesn’t shy away from pointing out Pandya’s Test credentials.

“I think he (Pandya) needs to be pushed at Test level, it’s where you actually work out your game. I don’t think he’s 100 per cent ready for Test cricket. He’s a really good talent, make no mistake but he’ll find out where else to improve only by playing Test cricket.”

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    Aritra Mukherjee, who happens to be a journalist, is in an eternal relationship with food and sleep. He can, however, sacrifice both or at least the latter for his love-affair with cricket. 'He said,' 'he added,' 'he signed off' are some of his favourite phrases. When not juggling between food, sleep and cricket, he wastes time by surfing OTT platforms.

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