Kapil Dev, the first Indian captain to bring World Cup home in 1983, feels that the team’s current all-rounder Hardik Pandya is doing wonders with the bat but also needs to improve his bowling if he is to become an all-rounder.

Pandya has carried forward his good form in the IPL where he, standing at the back of the crease, dispatched balls at a strike rate of 191.42. Glimpses of his batting prowess were witnessed even during India’s final game against Pakistan in the Champions trophy finals 2017, where he threatened to take the game away single-handedly.

“Let’s not draw comparisons, let him play. We have witnessed his ability and I want him to play better than me. He is an all-rounder, he has to perform in both the departments. Yes, he is a batting all-rounder I can feel that… I hope he can improve in his bowling. He is a great team man and that is more important,” Kapil said at the launch of APNE 11, a fantasy sports platform.

Much of India’s fate will hinge on how Shikhar Dhawan recuperates from his injury. On Dhawan’s thumb injury, he said, “Let’s stay positive. We can’t do anything about it now. Let’s hope that whoever replaces him performs well for the team. Yes, I feel sorry for him. It’s disheartening when a player of Dhawan’s calibre is out of the team with an injury.”

On being asked who should replace the opener, Kapil refrained from offering any suggestions and said, “We should continue to repose faith in the selectors and management and hope they will come out with the best replacement possible.”

Now that the team management has cleared the air that Dhawan will not be available for at least next two weeks, he was asked if India were going in as favourites against Pakistan. He said, “India are clearly a much better side. When we played, Pakistan used to be favourites all the time. The Indian team is playing good cricket, and are on top.”

And India will look to settle score against Pakistan. Despite being favourites for the Champions trophy title in 2017, they had lost the game in the final match. India are again one of the favourites as their top order batsmen are scoring heavily. The team, since their warm up game against Bangladesh, have successfully managed to score over 300 runs.

Commenting on high scoring pitches in England, the World Cup winning captain said, “Over the years, pitches in England have got flat. If you leave a little bit of grass cover on the pitch, it will be difficult to even score 250. I can sense that spectators nowadays want to see sixes and fours but as per my opinion, I want pitches to be 60 percent in batsmen’s favour and 40 for the bowlers.”

Kapil is happy with the performance of the team thus far. “The Indian team has started off very nicely after convincingly beating the opponents (South Africa and Australia) in the last two matches. Let’s hope they continue playing the same cricket and rain doesn’t play a spoilsport.”


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