New Delhi: Spin great Muttiah Muralitharan came in support of India all-rounder Hardik Pandya after he faced backlash for a poor show in the ODI series against Sri Lanka. The flamboyant all-rounder scored 19 runs in two innings and claimed only three wickets. Muralitharan said that Hardik is a special player and he would like to have him in any team in the world.

Muralitharan talked about Hardik’s ability with the ball and said that the recent back injury is pulling him back to perform at his best.

“Hardik Pandya is a special player. If I was captain, I would have him in any team in the world an IPL team, Australian team any team in the world. Because he has got the ability to bowl at 140 clicks and he can adjust and also bowl slower. Because of the injury, I feel he couldn’t do much,” Muralitharan said on ESPNCricinfo.

In the third ODI against Sri Lanka, Hardik came out to bat at number 6 over Nitish Rana. Muralitharan said the team management needs to use him wisely as the 28-year-old is a short-period batsman who has the ability to slam a hundred in just 40 balls.

“Secondly, his batting is also special. We can’t accept him to play like Nitish Rana, or Suryakumar Yadav stay long and get runs. He is a short-period batsman who would bamboozle you with a 40-ball hundred. That’s the expectation I would have from him.”

The legendary spinner gave a classic example of his former teammate Sanath Jayasuriya who was known for his attacking batting. Muralitharan feels that demanding Hardik to score 70-ball 90 runs will be asking Jayasuriya to open and score at run a ball.

“He might get out in the first two overs but if he clicks for 20-30 balls, he would score 50 runs. So that is the expectation from Hardik Pandya. If you make him play 70 balls and expect 90 runs, he would not be the same player,” Muralitharan added.

“It’s like asking Jayasuriya to open and score at run a ball. He won’t be successful. These players can play No. 7 and 8 anytime. Put him in and let him play his own game.”