Former Pakistan cricketer Abdul Razzaq is convinced that as promising as Hardik Pandya is, there is a long road ahead for the India allrounder to take before he could be compared to the great Kapil Dev. Razzaq, an allrounder himself, insisted that Hardik is “nowhere near” India’s first World Cup winning captain Kapil or Pakistan’s Imran Khan, considered two of the best allrounders of all time.

“Kapil Dev and Imran Khan are the best allrounders of all time. Hardik is nowhere near that league. Even I was an allrounder but it doesn’t mean that I would compare myself with Imran bhai. Kapil paaji and Imran bhai were in a different league,” Razzaq told PTI.

Hardik’s repeated back injuries have not gone unnoticed to Razzaq, Warning against issues such as complacency, Razzaq believes Hardik needs to work harder, which can make him an even better allrounder.

“Pandya is a good player but he can be a much better all-rounder. It is all about hard work. When you don’t give enough time to the game, it drifts away from you,” Razzaq added. “He has to prepare better mentally as well as physically. As you have seen, he has been getting injured a lot of late (underwent back surgery last year). When you earn a lot of money, you tend to relax. For every player it is the same. Mohammad Amir did not work hard enough and his performance dipped.”

Razzaq also clarified that his “baby bowler” comment regarding Jasprit Bumrah was misinterpreted and blown out of proportion. In December last year, Razzaq had stated he would have had no problem facing Bumrah, going on to call the Indian pace spearhead a baby bowler in comparison to the likes of Glenn McGrath and Wasim Akram.

This time, making a 360-degree switch, Razzaq lauded Bumrah for his rise in international cricket and saying the pacer is heading towards greatness.

“I do not have anything personal against Bumrah. I was simply comparing him with the likes of Glenn McGrath, Wasim Akram, Curtly Ambrose, Shoaib Akhtar. It would have been much tougher to face them. My comments were misconstrued. He is heading towards becoming a world-class bowler. But in our times, the bowlers were of much higher calibre. Not many can dispute that,” he said.

“You don’t feel the same pressure facing the current crop of pacers. Overall, there is a bad patch in world cricket. We are not producing world-class players the way we used to 10-15 years ago. You had Tendulkar, Zaheer, Sehwag, Ganguly in the same team. They would have walked into any team. May be too much T20 cricket is responsible for this decline.”

Weighing in on India’s domination against Pakistan in World Cups, which stands at a formidable 7-0, Razzaq feels the result is highly unlikely to change going ahead.

“India will continue to maintain that record,” said Razzaq, who played in three India-Pakistan World Cup games (1999, 2003, 2011). “It is rare that India and Pakistan play each other in knockout matches of ICC events. They most play in the league stage and India are favourites. Our players are not able to absorb the pressure that comes with this game. We used to win a lot against India in Sharjah, beat them in Canada twice.

“I remember the 1999 World Cup, people and media put pressure on the players before the game and we wilted. It has stayed like that unfortunately. The pressure builds on the players though it is like any other match. The players not are confident about beating India in World Cup.”