Indian bowler Hardik Pandya (L) reacts after bowling on South African batsman Vernon Philander (R) during the fourth day of the second Test cricket match between South Africa and India at Supersport cricket ground on January 16, 2018 in Centurion, South Africa. / AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Hardik Pandya’s Recent Form Is A Worry

Very few cricketers in the recent past have been as talked about as Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya. Impressing everyone with his hard-hitting down the order and his useful medium pace deliveries, Pandya has cemented a place in all formats at the international level. While 2017 was a dream year for Pandya, contributing with both bat and ball, his recent form has increasingly become a worry.

Since the ODI series against Australia in 2017 where Pandya scored 222 runs at an average of 55.50 and a strike rate of 108.82, Pandya has crossed 30 either in ODI or T20I cricket only once in 15 innings, his highest score being 30. Since that Australian ODI series, he has scored 54 runs at an average of 10.80 in T20I Cricket and has scored 98 runs at an average of 12.25. While one can argue about the style of his game being aggressive and risk-friendly the reason for his failures, it is hard to argue about the manner of his dismissals. One clear weakness which has surfaced is his difficulty to play the seamers.
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In these 15 limited overs innings, he has been dismissed nine times by seamers. Twice he failed to pick New Zealand leg-spinner Ish Sodhi and that also raised concerns about his ability to play against spinners with constant variations. His batting form in South Africa in the Test matches was disappointing, to say the least. After a counter-attacking 93 in the first innings of the First Test at Cape Town, Pandya only managed 26 runs in the next five innings, at a very sorry average of 5.20. His dismissals were really under the scanner. Run-out in a very lethargic manner in Centurion, trying to upper-cut in the same game and chasing wide deliveries outside the off-stump made for ugly viewing.

In the ongoing ODI series, the Baroda all-rounder has just 26 runs at an average of 8.33 with a strike rate of 74.29, which is nowhere near the lofty standards he set in early 2017. His bowling numbers are also pretty bleak. After the ODIs against Australia, Pandya has picked up just nine wickets in eleven games at an average of 46.67 with an economy rate of 5.39. In those eleven games, Pandya has bowled his full quota of ten overs only three times. In the Test matches against South Africa, Pandya took three wickets in 51 overs at an average of 54 in seamer-friendly conditions.

To provide a comparison, fellow all-rounder Bhuvneshwar Kumar has out-batted Pandya on this trip to South Africa so far. In the Tests, Kumar scored 101 runs at an average of 33.67 and 40 runs at an average of 40 at a strike rate of 86.96 in the ongoing ODIs.

While Hardik Pandya has quickly risen through the ranks to become India’s premier all-rounder, he needs to work on being more consistent with both bat and ball. Retained for a whopping eleven crores by the Mumbai Indians in the IPL, all eyes are now firmly on him and he needs to put in big and consistent performances. The recent numbers are worrying.

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