India batting legend, and current coach of the India A team, Rahul Dravid has lauded Hardik Pandya for the way he has transformed himself into a batsman that can play in all conditions and all types of situations.
The 23-year-old Pandya has shown in the ongoing ODI series against Australia that he has more to his game than just his six hitting ability.
In the first match of the series, Pandya, with MS Dhoni, rescued India from a difficult position of 87/5 with the home team going on to post a match-winning total 281/7, the allrounder scoring 83 off just 66 balls.
The hard-hitting batter was then promoted to number four in the third ODI and contributed a run a ball 72 as India chased down a target of 294 to win the match to clinch the series with two games to spare.
He has also taken key wickets with his right-arm seam bowling which also continues to improve.
Pandya also made his Test debut on the recent tour to Sri Lanka, striking a century and fifty in the three-match series, and will be an important player as India look to keep their number one status in world cricket.
Dravid, who coached Pandya on an India A tour to Australia last year, says the allrounder deserves all credit for the way he has turned his career around.
Dravid said: “A good example about Hardik from my perspective is, he’s willing to play situations and not just the natural game we often speak about. Credit goes completely to him.
“He’s the one who has actually turned his career around. It’s not about playing just the one way you want to play.
“If he bats at four, he bats in a particular way. If he bats at six, he bats in a particular way. He may bat at 80 for 4, like he did in the first ODI with Dhoni.
“That shows maturity and that’s what you want to see. This concept of ‘play your natural game’, which I hear all the time, frustrates me because there’s no such thing in my belief as ‘natural game.’
“It’s only about how you play different situations. Are you good enough to play when the score is 30 for 3, or 250 for 3? Are you good enough to bat when you go in first over or are you good enough to go in first ball after lunch?
“You have to learn to bat differently in different conditions, and if you can do that like Hardik is showing at the moment, those would be signs of a developing cricketer, someone who can make consistent contributions and not someone who is a one-off, who can produce brilliance once in a while.”
Pandya will hope to continue his impressive form when they fourth ODI against Australia takes place in Bangalore on Thursday.