India all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been appointed as the stand-in captain for India tour of New Zealand. Pandya will be leading India in the three T20Is against New Zealand. It will be a litmus test for Pandya as he is being touted to take over T20I captaincy from Rohit Sharma. Although Pandya has already proved his mettle in captaincy by winning an IPL title in his debut season, Pandya still has to lead the national team against a top-tier opponent.
The 28-year-old led India to a 2-0 series victory over Ireland earlier this year. Pandya also captained one of the five T20Is India played against West Indies and won the game. But this time the challenge will be different. Pandya has a young team to lead with quite a few names touring New Zealand for the first time. It will be interesting to see how he manages his players against a full-strength New Zealand side.
Meanwhile, the stand-in head coach of India, VVS Laxman has heaped praise on Pandya for his leadership skills. Laxman said that Pandya is not just tactically sound but he is calm on the field. The India head coach also revealed that Pandya is very approachable and can be called a players’ captain.
“He is a fabulous leader. We have seen what he has done with Gujarat Titans in the IPL. Taking leadership in the first year of the franchise in the tournament, and winning the league is not a mean achievement. I have spent a lot of time with him since the Ireland series, he is just not only tactically sound, but he is very calm on the field and that is something which is very important at the highest level. He is very approachable & players captain,” said Laxman at the pre-match presser.
Laxman also addressed the talks around India’s conservative batting approach as he said that players need to be fearless. The former India batter also said that T20 format needs more multi-dimensional players.
“In T20I cricket, we need to play with freedom and fearlessness, and we have such players that can go out and express themselves. The message given to them by the captain and management is that they bat fearlessly but also keep conditions and situations in mind and create strategies accordingly,” said Laxman.
“More number of bowlers who can bat adds depth to batting lineup and gives freedom to batters to go out and express themselves. That is the need of the format and I am sure that more teams will try getting this in their selection process and identify players who are multi-dimensional,” he added.