Hardik Pandya    AFP
Hardik Pandya AFP

Hardik Pandya has answered all the questions that India were looking out for in an all-rounder. His naturally free-stroking approach has bailed India out on most occasions. Be it No. 7 or No. 4, Pandya has proved his stance. His India A coach Rahul Dravid feels Pandya is a smart cricketer, who can play as per the situations. Dravid hopes India A players are able to emulate the template set by Pandya. Last year Dravid was Pandya s coach during the India A tour of Australia. It was for the first time Dravid discovered Pandya s ability to temper his free-strokes.

Off late, Pandya has shown those skills during the Sri Lanka as well as Australia ODI series. In Chennai, he steadied the boat with MS Dhoni removing India from the ruins at the same time has marched over the bowlers when required. In the first ODI he scored a match-turning 83. In the previous ODI at Indore, Pandya was sent up at No. 4 and he notched up 78 maintaining the tempo set by openers. A good example about Hardik from my perspective is, he’s willing to play situations and not just the natural game we often speak about. Credit goes completely to him. He’s the one who has actually turned his career around, Dravid told ESPNcricinfo.com.

If he bats at four, he bats in a particular way. If he bats at six, he bats in a particular way. Tomorrow, he may bat at 80 for 4, like he did in the first ODI with Dhoni. That shows maturity and that’s what you want to see. This concept of ‘play your natural game’, which I hear all the time, frustrates me because there’s no such thing in my belief as ‘natural game , Dravid added.

With India A tours becoming a regular affair, Ranji Trophy also needs to be given due importance, opines Dravid, The board has been open to scheduling series but it’s difficult to balance out, especially the A tours become difficult because we do understand the stress players face with the amount of cricket played. They’re required to play for their state associations, which we are conscious of. The last thing we want to do is pull them out of Ranji Trophy matches to play A series. I believe Ranji Trophy should be given as much importance, playing for states should be important.