Hardik is a game-changer for India in T20s: Dhoni

Impressed with Hardik Pandya’s ability to hit big shots from the first ball, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni says the youngster has proved to be a “game-changer” for India with his all-round talent.

Pandya hit a quick-fire 18-ball 31 runs and then bowled four tight overs with figures of 1/23 in India’s 45-run win over hosts Bangladesh in the Asia Cup T20 opener.

“Good to see him bowl four overs. It will give us a lot of strength — three fast bowlers and two proper spinners. You don’t need to change your team as every base is covered.

People may feel that having seven proper batsmen is a luxury but what’s the harm, if we have someone like him (Hardik).

“If he gets going, he gets you those 15 runs extra. If 160 is par-score, he can give you 165-175. It is good for bowlers. We wanted somebody like him. He is a game-changer,” Dhoni said at the post match press conference.

“We don’t need to tell Hardik anything. He knows only one thing – that is to hit the ball, that’s what he does. He is someone who likes to clear the boundary,” Dhoni said when asked about instructions given to Pandya when he went to bat.

“The more games he will play, better he will get. But definitely he has a skill, which is a difficult one – that is to hit from the first ball.”

Dhoni said Pandya’s all-round ability gives the side much needed balance.

“To a lot of extent, people who can bat and bowl, are able to contribute in this format. More all-rounders you have, better it is. At times, you can go with four specialist bowlers if you have 4-5 good part-timers. In good conditions, Yuvi, Raina can do the job. In other formats you can debate but T20 is a game of all-rounders. If I want, he (Hardik) can give me one, two or four overs,” Dhoni said in praise of the Baroda youngster.

But as has been with Dhoni, there was a bit of caution that was laced with all the words of praise that he showered on Pandya.

“But I won’t like to comment on T20 performances as it is entirely different from 50 overs. In T20, you can get away in the four overs, but in ODI, you will bowl for five overs, then come back for a second and third spell, it will be completely different scenario but he is definitely somebody, who has the talent and can do the job for us.”