Team India all-rounder Hardik Pandya is having a tough time of late. Following his inability to bowl frequently due to back surgery, Pandya seemed to have rediscovered himself as a proper batsman in the limited-overs format during the tour of Australia. However, since then, his batting fortunes have nosedived to such an extent that his place in the playing XI has now come under the scanner. When Pandya made his international debut, he was seen as a medium-pacer who could also bat. However, over time he improved his hitting to such an extent that, he transformed into a batting all-rounder. Currently, though, he is struggling in both departments.
If we look at his performance during the tour of Australia where he featured in the ODIs and T20Is, Pandya hammered 210 in three one-dayers at an average of 105 with two half-centuries. He impressed in the T20Is as well, smashing 78 runs at an average of 39. However, he looked out of sorts in the home series against England, failing to make an impression with the bat in the ODIs and the T20Is. In the three-match one-day series against Sri Lanka, Pandya managed only 19 runs. This came at the back of a forgettable run with the bat in the first half of IPL 2021.
Hardik Pandya’s weak areas exposed
It often happens that when a talented batsman enters international cricket, he is able to dominate the bowlers since the opposition is not very well aware of his strengths and weaknesses. Even with the amount of video footage available for analysis, taking on a player on the ground is a completely different ball game. In his first couple of years in international cricket, Pandya was a massive success with his big-hitting because he could pick his areas to hit as the bowlers, unknowingly, often bowled to his strengths.
However, over the last few months, opponents have been able to figure out where to bowl to Pandya and where not to bowl to the monster-hitter. There have been two specific areas in which the Baroda all-rounder has been found out as opposition bowlers and coaches have done their research on him. One, Pandya has struggled against the short ball aimed at his body. And two, he has been unable to pierce the ball through the off-side, as bowlers have bowled wide outside the stumps to him at an angle where Pandya has been unable to get under the deliveries.
Pandya’s frustration has been clearly visible as he has failed to provide the finishing touches to the Indian team. Even in the IPL, with the pitches assisting the bowlers, pace taken off the ball made like difficult for Pandya. His batting seemed one-dimensional as he could not come up with the big strokes as the ball wasn’t coming onto the bat. The otherwise good timer of the ball kept finding the fielders as he could get no power into his strokes against the ‘held up’ deliveries.
Should India worry about Pandya’s batting struggles?
Not really. Pandya is in the midst of a phase that most players have to go through after tasting early success in their career. What the Baroda cricketer needs to do is work a way out of the rut. He is well aware by now what the bowlers are aiming to do against him. It is up to Pandya to develop strokes or modify his game to scuttle the challenges posed to him.
The 27-year-old definitely has the talent to fight back from the tough times. The good thing is he is carrying a positive mindset despite his struggles. In a recent interaction, he told the media, “I understand that in life you have to keep growing. As a cricketer and a person, you need to keep growing. My process is just growing as a human being. You tend to make mistakes, you fail, but I like to celebrate my failures. I like to celebrate my bad days, it is a part of the sport and it teaches you a lot of things. I like to remember it.”
And so, while Pandya might be failing to find the middle of the blade, for now, expect him to come back with a bang.