Sridhar spoke in detail about the Team India star and revealed that Ravi Shastri saw his potential “even before he made his debut for India”.
India’s star all-rounder Hardik Pandya is widely regarded as one of the most important members in the team at the moment. The 28-year-old star made a scintillating comeback to the Indian team following consistent performances in the 2022 Indian Premier League, where he led the Gujarat Titans to a maiden title. Pandya had made himself unavailable for selection following India’s dismal campaign in the previous year’s T20 World Cup, and took this time to focus on his recovery from back injury.
Hardik produced magnificent outings upon his return to the international team and soon became an integral part of the limited-overs squads. India’s former fielding coach R Sridhar, however, believes that even before the all-rounder had made his India debut in 2016, Ravi Shastri had identified his potential. While Anil Kumble was the head coach for India at the time, Shastri succeeded him a year later.
“We saw him as an out-and-out match-winner in the Indian team. Ravi bhai saw his potential even before he made his debut for India. He was like, ‘he is the boy who will win us Test matches abroad’. He knew that Hardik was a missing link for India abroad, an all-rounder who can crack a 140+. So, we all knew what Hardik could bring to the team. Straightaway, Hardik started learning lessons from Mahi, Rohit, Virat. We all knew what he bring to the table,” Sridhar said on cricket.com.
“His strength is he played cricket because he love the sport. He absolutely enjoyed playing cricket, whether it was batting, bowling, fielding. We didn’t see any perceived weakness in him,” the former coach further said.
Since making his Test debut in 2017, Hardik Pandya has played in 11 matches in the longest format. His last Test appearance came in September 2018 in England; Pandya soon faced a back injury and over the next few years, he was confined to limited-overs formats as a part of workload management process.