“All negative talk about Hardik Pandya was when he became unfit” – Rajkumar Sharma on all-rounder’s captaincy race with Pant and Rahul

Virat Kohli’s childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma believes the T20I series against Ireland could play a decisive role in Team India’s future captaincy race between Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul.

The Indian team will face Ireland in two T20Is, with the first game to be played on Sunday, June 26. With Rohit Sharma, Rahul and Pant being unavailable, Hardik will be leading the Men In Blue for the first time.

During a discussion on India News, Sharma was asked if the T20I series against Ireland could decide how far behind Pant and Rahul are left by Hardik in Team India’s captaincy race. He replied:

“Definitely, all negative talk about Hardik Pandya was when he became unfit. When he was doing well for Indian cricket and winning matches, everyone was praising him. He was being compared with Kapil Dev, it was being said that India has got a second Kapil Dev.”

The former first-class cricketer pointed out that it would be a huge accomplishment for Hardik if he could replicate his success as the Gujarat Titans (GT) skipper for the Indian team as well. Sharma elaborated:

“But the way he has come back, it has been fantastic. The way he made the Gujarat team the champions, it was extremely unexpected that Gujarat made him the captain and the way he took the responsibility. He has gained from that, he has been made the captain of the Indian team, and it will be a very big thing if he leaves an impact on the Indian team as skipper.”

Hardik led the Titans to the IPL trophy in their maiden year in the prestigious tournament. His calm and collected approach as skipper during IPL 2022 earned plaudits from many cricket experts.

“It will be slightly hasty to say that” – Saba Karim on Hardik Pandya being considered as future India captain based on performances vs Ireland

Hardik Pandya has been part of Team India's leadership group in recent times
Hardik Pandya has been part of Team India’s leadership group in recent times

Saba Karim presented a slightly contrary view to that of Sharma. He reasoned:

“In my opinion, it will be slightly hasty to say that at the moment. He has been given the captaincy for sure but he will get only two matches to lead. There are two or three players the team management is looking at as a possible leader – Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul are all in that.”

However, the former Indian selector acknowledged that the all-rounder will certainly be in contention for Team India’s future captaincy role. Saba observed:

“But Hardik Pandya’s role becomes much bigger here because a huge change has been seen in his captaincy and his performances. So I feel he is definitely a potential candidate, he has been made part of the leadership group considering that only.

Apart from the two T20Is against Ireland, Hardik could be seen captaining the Indian team for at least the first T20I versus England. The Baroda cricketer could steal a march over Pant and Rahul in the race for Team India’s future skipper if he impresses as a captain in these games.

Also Read: “Last time Chahal demolished them” – Aakash Chopra makes his predictions for 1st India vs Ireland T20I

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Edited by Samya Majumdar