Hardik Pandya has made an impressive return to international cricket following a long injury layoff that saw him undergoing a back surgery. Pandya is still sceptical about bowling at full throttle but his evolution as a pure batsman has earned him an admirer in Sanjay Manjrekar.

Twice in the recently concluded ODI series in Australia, Pandya showed he is not just a big-hitter but can also pace his innings according to the match situation. On Wednesday, he combined with Ravindra Jadeja to prevent the Indian innings from falling apart as he scored a patient half-century before opening an pushing them to what turned out to be a winning total.

He scored his fifty off 55 deliveries and then switched gears to remain unbeaten on 92 off 76.

Manjrekar admitted he had reservations regarding Pandya as a pure ODI batsman.

“I was sceptical when they picked him on IPL performance. I thought he was a good T20 batsman but 50 over is a slightly different game. Can Hardik Pandya be a pure 50 overs batsman and he proved to all of us that he can,” Manjrekar said on Sony Six after India defeated Australia by 13 runs in Canberra.

“He had that score in the first match but we have seen him get runs and not be consistent enough but we have seen in this game again today. So yes, India have found a pure No. 6. Who knows he might start going up the order?” he added.

Pandya’s unbroken century stand with Jadeja helped India to 302/5 before they bowled out Australia for 289 and ended the ODI series on a high.

“It wasn’t a T20 innings, India lost early wickets and he got 30 from his first 30 balls. He has got the range and not too many bowlers can keep him quiet. That’s really impressive. He has convinced me as I was sceptical about him as a No. 6 pure batsman. I think India have found one,” Manjrekar explained.

He continued, “Whether he bowls or not, India have now found a very capable batsman who can be used as an option in No. 5 or No. 6.”