Wasn’t critical of Pandya, but those comparing him to Kapil: Michael Holding
Michael Holding had caught everyone's attention through his comments about Hardik Pandya (Getty Images)

After his comments about Hardik Pandya not being “there yet” as an allrounder caught the eye of the storm, former West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding has cleared the air about his controversial statement. Holding, who picked up 391 international wickets for West Indies across a 12-year-long career, clarified that he never doubted Pandya’s all-round skills, but only those who were drawing parallels between him and Kapil Dev.

Pandya didn’t do much with the bat or ball during India’s first two Tests against, which they lost to England, and Holding was critical of India wanting Pandya to fill up for a sixth batsman and a fourth medium-pacer, which according to the West Indies legend, did not make sense. In an interview with Times of India, Holding pointed out that he never thought Pandya wasn’t good at what he did or was ineffective in his role as an allrounder.

“Please go back and listen to or read what I have said about Pandya. I was more critical of the people who were telling me he is the next Kapil Dev, not of Pandya himself,” Holding said. “I have gone on to say that he is not the man to fill that sort of role as yet, batting at No. 6 and bowling. What I am glad also to see is that I read somewhere that he had said he doesn’t want to be known as the new Kapil Dev; he is Hardik Pandya, which is the right attitude.”

Pandya’s Test career has seen a rise since he made his debut against Sri Lanka last year, where he scored the quickest Test century by an Indian. Soon, he was started being compared to India’s greatest allrounder. However, a lean patch, since scoring 93 against South Africa in Cape Town earlier this year in Cape Town drew him plenty of slack, including people like Harbhajan Singh and Sunil Gavaskar.

But an all-round performance during India’s third Test against England at Trent Bridge saw, that saw him pick up his maiden five-wicket-haul and score a half-century in the second innings, signalled his return to form. His five-for played was the turning point in the match, which India went on to win by 203 runs. Following his spell, Pandya asserted that he was better being the first Hardik Pandya than the next Kapil Dev.

“He (Pandya) only bowled 10 overs in the entire first Test (Edgbaston) and 17 in the entire second Test where the seamers on both teams were making the ball talk and batsmen were struggling. He got no runs in either of the first two Tests as well. He bowled a lot more in the third Test and maybe that is down to the fact that he got a wicket with his first delivery, which then convinced his captain to give him more overs than in the first two Tests,” said Holding.

Pandya, 24, has found himself at the end of some criticism during this series. Besides Holding questioning Pandya’s role in the aftermath of India’s innings defeat at Lord’s, former India offspinner Harbhajan Singh was even more critical of him, stating that the Pandya needed to be disassociated with as an allrounder. Former India batsman VVS Laxman felt that Pandya should have been dropped for the second Test, and Greg Chappell termed Pandya a work in progress.

Addressing the media after his game-changing performance, Pandya said that he didn’t care what people thought of him as long he continue to perform and that he would rather be focussed on being the first Hardik Pandya than being the next Kapil Dev, the World Cup winning captain to whom Pandya has been regularly compared.