Hardik Pandya will be watched with the greatest interest among India’s World Cup debutants along with paceman Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav. Pandya's all-round skills, explosive with the bat and deceptively crafty as a fast-medium bowler, help India find the critical balance. If he can perform at optimum levels for the six weeks during the World Cup, India will be a huge beneficiary of his mercurial skills.
Pandya can hit the ball real hard, playing the role of the finisher with aplomb, but it is a good guess that India will rely on his bowling a full quota of 10 overs in each game, even on the flat decks that are expected to be rolled out for the World Cup matches in England. He has an uncanny knack of picking up wickets, with short-pitched deliveries that climb quickly and with length deliveries that move in the air late and off the pitch.
From the time his talent was rewarded with an Indian cap, first in the Twenty20 format as well as in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in 2016 and then in Tests the following year, he has always been seen as an exciting cricketer. He experienced emotional roller-coaster rides pretty soon, bowling remarkable last overs and delivering a no-ball at the most inopportune time for the team, striking the ball cleanly and falling to over-enthusiasm as well.
Having spent a month in the wilderness after being recalled from Australia in the wake of a controversial, insensitive statement at a popular chat show, Hardik Pandya has a greater understanding of the importance of keeping his place in the side. He has gained a bit in the process, realising that he has to channel all his energies on the cricket field. The new-found focus has only helped him.