Mount Maunganui: Legendary batsman Sunil Gavaskar on Monday welcomed Hardik Pandya's return to the Indian ODI team, saying his presence covers all bases for the side.
Pandya, who is facing an inquiry for his loose talk during a TV show, did not get to bat in the third ODI against New Zealand here Monday but the 25-year-old bowled and fielded with purpose, taking two crucial wickets and a brilliant catch.
"He was very, very impressive. You know why this team management wants him in the side. He actually fills that little blank that was there. This allows the team to be balanced. He covers all the bases for the team," Gavaskar told Star Sports.
"He's bowled a very good line, he has used the bouncers to very good effect. He has been like a live wire on the field. That's the plus that Hardik Pandya brings to the team. He is such an outstanding fielder. He will get you some impossible catches, get you some terrific run-outs and then with the bat and the ball, he does well," he added.
Pandya was sent back home from Australia earlier this month after BCCI suspended him and KL Rahul pending an inquiry for making controversial comments on women.
It seemed that he would also miss the entire tour of New Zealand but the Committee of Administrators (CoA) revoked their interim suspension last week and now their fate will be decided by an Ombudsman who is yet to be appointed by the Supreme Court.
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Hardik has not bowled regularly for India and his Indian Premier League (IPL) side Mumbai Indians since returning after undergoing a back surgery in 2019.
Pandya played five games in the UAE leg of IPL without a lot of success save one game against Punjab Kings which he won with his batting and didn't bowl a single over as anticipated
Pandya's fitness is a concern heading into the tournament as he did not bowl at all in the IPL. The team management has repeatedly stated that Pandya's bowling is crucial for the team's balance.