Why Hardik Pandya might replace MS Dhoni in the team?
He played the anchor-accumulator-destroyer position against Pakistan, just like the previous captain did in his peak.
Hardik Pandya was questioned about taking on the MS Dhoni position in ODIs at the beginning of this year. Pandya would just respond, “I don’t mind coming in and playing the role that Mahi used to play at some point in the past.” However, the abrupt similarity depressed him, and he feigned resignation by saying, “But I have to evolve and that is life.”
It was a practical judgment because blending into various clothes under various conditions is a tricky and rare art to master. He must occasionally anchor, occasionally accumulate, and other times use the long handle. He frequently has to act in all three capacities inside the same inning. The fact that India has yet to replace the Dhoni-shaped hole illustrates how challenging it is to excel in the several roles he played for more than a decade. But he made clear progress toward the Dhoni role in his 90-ball 87 against a quick-bowling Pakistan. It was taken directly from the Dhoni playbook.
India needed someone to extend the innings as much as possible when they reached the middle at 66/4 and had more than 35 extra overs to use, and Pandya accomplished this with ease. He used the nudges and paddle sweeps against spinners after realizing that the pitch was two-paced and scoring straight was difficult. He used the angle to direct seamers throughout operations, reducing risk.
Pandya was operating alongside Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz when Babar Azam continuously persuaded him to go for the big strokes, but Pandya was resisting the temptation. Not that he would fail if he chose to take them on, but there were more pressing matters to attend to. He held off on the sixes until the 72nd ball of his knock, figuring they could wait. He smacked the first ball for a four, but he only hit one more ball to the fence in the following 32 balls. But like Dhoni, he can maintain the score without taking any chances. Up until 53 of his 87 runs came from singles and doubles.
Apart from maintaining Ishan Kishan’s composure and creating a partnership that altered the direction of the innings, Pandya was quickly switching gears and positioning himself for a spectacular finale. Dhoni claimed that he was maintaining calculated risks while also deepening the game.
Even after losing Kishan, Pandya didn’t alter his plans because he had made the decision to speed up in the final four overs of the second powerplay to make the most of the four fielders outside the circle. He has the ability to let go when the mood strikes, and in the 40th over, which Haris Rauf bowled, he did just that. He beat him for three limits, each blow a declaration of his dominance.
It could not have been more appropriate for him to be the anchor, accumulater, and destroyer throughout those innings. Pandya might play the Yuvraj role in the 2011 World Cup because India’s batting lineup has not yet taken on its final form. Yuvraj served as the middle-order’s unifying force. Pandya would excel in that position.
Pandya enjoys pace, which is unusual for a batting squad that has historically struggled against top-tier pace attacks. He averages 69.66, 54.60, and 44.66 against Pakistan, Australia, and England—three teams with strong pace assaults. He was able to bat at No. 4, 5, 6, or 7, just like Yuvraj, depending on the circumstances. He might be the anchor-accumulator to extend the game if India loses early wickets. Then he is also capable of winning games, just like Dhoni.
Pandya, like Dhoni, didn’t seem like a natural in this position. He was regarded as the power batter in the lower order. So was Dhoni before he became into one of the best finishers in the game from a big-hitter. After the 2007 World Cup, he revealed the deeper aspects of his hitting, moving from being a pure, unnoticed power-hitter who launched the ball far and hard.
When players like Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, and Yusuf Pathan were around, Dhoni—who could knock sixes whenever he wanted—moved up the order, frequently batted in the second and third gears, and preferred to carry the game further before displaying his brutish firepower. Dhoni handled everything with ease, from consolidating the starts to performing rescues.
Pandya enjoys hitting massive sixes much like Dhoni does. Regardless of the quality of the bowlers, he can cause enough harm to the opponents when he is in a marauding mood. He can easily crush pacers and spinners, much like Dhoni could. But lately, Pandya has shown a willingness to control that side for the benefit of his group, club, or nation so that other players with more offensive potential can play around him. His hitting has more gears than was initially believed.
But the change did not happen overnight. Pandya has always had more to his game than just smashing sixes, but those talents have frequently gone unnoticed and have only seldom shone. His physical condition, bowling, and most recently his leadership qualities (his IPL captaincy was frequently compared to Dhoni’s) were always the main points of attention. However, it ultimately required a Dhoni-like rescue effort to highlight his batting talent, on the same field where he had earned his sole Test hundred. Pandya may claim that he has actually evolved after this knock.