Home Sports Madan Lal questions Hardik Pandya’s Asia Cup vice-captaincy retention over Bumrah: ‘Where...

Madan Lal questions Hardik Pandya’s Asia Cup vice-captaincy retention over Bumrah: ‘Where is the Hardik who scored 92 vs Australia?’


When you think of Hardik Pandya as a batter, what images come to mind? Could it be his powerful sixes against Shadab Khan and Fakhar Zaman that gave India a glimmer of hope in the 2017 Champions Trophy final? Or his aggressive century off just 86 balls against Sri Lanka in only his second Test match barely two months later? How about his quickfire 33-ball 63 at a striking rate of almost 200 in the T20 World Cup semifinal against England last year? Or his standout performance in the IPL? And remember that composed innings of 71 against England, which proved crucial in leveling the game for India after their top order stumbled to 72/4 in an ODI in 2022? And who can forget the ruthless way he took on Australia’s bowlers, hitting 71 off just 30 balls to illuminate Mohali’s PCA Stadium?

Gather those thoughts, wrap them in a soft fabric… and let them settle. The Hardik who once struck fear into the hearts of bowlers has become harder to find in recent times. Occasionally, he will remind us of his 2017-2018 self with a dazzling innings – like his recent 70 off 52 balls with five sixes against West Indies. However, with just two ODI half-centuries since August of the previous year and only one in T20Is since November, maybe it’s time for some self-reflection.

And if his batting struggles weren’t enough of a concern, India’s series loss to the 7th-ranked West Indies has brought Hardik a torrent of criticism, reminiscent of the backlash he faced in 2019 for his involvement in a controversial TV show. After successful outings where he led India to victories in New Zealand and at home against Sri Lanka, supported by impressive performances with the Gujarat Titans in the IPL, Hardik was seen as the natural successor to Rohit Sharma. However, certain tactical decisions have raised doubts about his reputation. Instances like not giving Yuzvendra Chahal a fourth over in the 2nd ODI, promoting himself in the batting order but failing to secure victory, and even the trivial dispute over denying Tilak Varma a half-century, have transformed golden boy Hardik into a villain in the eyes of the Indian public… all within a span of 10 days.

However, both the BCCI and the team management have a different perspective, as evidenced by their decision to retain Hardik as India’s vice-captain for the Asia Cup, over the returning Jasprit Bumrah. Despite the outside criticism and reports during the lead-up to the Asia Cup squad selection, the BCCI placed their trust in Hardik, indicating that he holds a significant position in the hierarchy and is on track to take on leadership responsibilities when Rohit steps down. This decision surprised some and gained agreement from others, including former India all-rounder Madan Lal. However, Madan Lal highlighted a crucial aspect – for India to fully utilize Hardik’s potential, he needs to regain his batting form.