Prasad: 'Hardik is the best all-rounder we have'

Many other cricketers have better credentials than Hardik Pandya, but the selection committee headed by M. S. K. Prasad thinks very highly of him and sure enough, his selection has also received the approving nod from captain Virat Kohli and coach Anil Kumble.

Hardik Pandya has played just 16 first class matches, scored 727 runs with five 50s and taken 22 wickets at 33.72.   -  AFP

The year 2016 has been memorable for Hardik Pandya. On January 26, he made his Twenty20 debut against Australia in Adelaide and on October 16, he made his ODI debut against New Zealand in Dharamsala. On Wednesday, the national selectors picked him for the Indian team for the first two Tests against England, to be played in Rajkot and Visakhapatnam.

The 23-year-old has played just 16 first class matches, scored 727 runs with five 50s and taken 22 wickets at 33.72. Many other cricketers have better credentials, but the selection committee headed by M. S. K. Prasad thinks very highly of him, and sure enough, Hardik’s selection has also received the approving nod from captain Virat Kohli and coach Anil Kumble.

"I do agree that he has not played much of first class cricket, but going by his form, all of us have to agree at this point that we need to identify the right all-rounders. Among the all-rounders we have right now, he is the top most all-rounder. After Kapil Dev we have been looking for a good all-rounder," explained Prasad.

The former India wicketkeeper further said, "If you see the ‘A’ series in Australia and the ODIs against New Zealand, he did extremely well. His pace has increased and he is moving the ball and his batsmanship has improved. He is an all-rounder who, we think, is an equally competent bowler and batsman, and he is a good fielder too."

Prasad also mentioned that Hardik as a personality has 'mellowed down.'

When asked to elaborate, he said, "We all know he is a bit hyper. Rahul Dravid has been really working hard with him on the mind aspect. I was part of that 'A' tour to Australia where he had worked with Rahul. And now Anil is guiding him. We have also spoken to him."

Finally, after naming three all-rounders, Stuart Binny, Hardik and Rishi Dhawan, the chairman said, "When it comes to this particular series, and if you want to have one bowler who can really bat, that’s Hardik...it is here he scores over Stuart Binny. He is a much better bowler than Stuart Binny and he is also doing really well in batting. Stuart is also being considered, but as of now with form and fitness and other aspects, we feel that Hardik is a much better option."