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Play Hardik Pandya in Tests

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zen

In the past, India has usually banked on the 6 Batsmen + 1 WK + 4 Bowlers combination. Depending on the pitch, India would play either 1 spinner or 2 spinners among the 4 specialist bowling slots. These 4 bowlers would be supported by batsmen who had extraordinary bowling skills such as Sehwag, Tendulkar and Ganguly. The 6th batsman, whether it was VVS Laxman or Ganguly, was impactful and among the best talents in the country.

 

For reference, below is the talent pool available for batting slots in the 1990-2014 period: 

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Primary team India remove India from query
Opposition team Australia remove Australia from query or England remove England from query or New Zealand remove New Zealand from query or Pakistan remove Pakistan from query or South Africa remove South Africa from query or Sri Lanka remove Sri Lanka from query or West Indies remove West Indies from query
Start of match date between 1 Jan 1990 and 31 Dec 2014 remove between 1 Jan 1990 and 31 Dec 2014 from query
Qualifications runs scored greater than or equal to 2000 remove runs scored greater than or equal to 2000 from query and batting average greater than or equal to 40 remove batting average greater than or equal to 40 from query
Ordered by batting average (descending)
Page 1 of 1 Showing 1 - 10 of 10   First pageFirst Previous pagePrevious Next Next page Last Last page dblBakArwB.gifReturn to query menu
dblBakArwW.gifCleared query menu
Overall figures
Player Span Mat Inns NO Runs HS AveDescending 100 50 0  
SR Tendulkar 1990-2013 180 300 28 13968 241* 51.35 43 63 13 investigate this query
R Dravid 1996-2012 147 261 27 11726 270 50.11 30 57 6 investigate this query
V Sehwag 2001-2013 96 168 4 8151 319 49.70 23 28 16 investigate this query
CA Pujara 2010-2014 27 48 4 2073 206* 47.11 6 6 1 investigate this query
VVS Laxman 1996-2012 125 213 32 8384 281 46.32 16 55 14 investigate this query
NS Sidhu 1990-1999 36 53 0 2450 201 46.22 7 11 5 investigate this query
M Azharuddin 1990-2000 62 92 6 3932 192 45.72 15 12 3 investigate this query
V Kohli 2011-2014 32 57 4 2354 169 44.41 9 10 4 investigate this query
SC Ganguly 1996-2008 99 169 16 6311 239 41.24 13 31 12 investigate this query
G Gambhir 2004-2014 50 91 3 3521 206 40.01 7 19 6 investigate this query

 

 

Bowling during the 1990-2014 period:

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Primary team India remove India from query
Opposition team Australia remove Australia from query or England remove England from query or New Zealand remove New Zealand from query or Pakistan remove Pakistan from query or South Africa remove South Africa from query or Sri Lanka remove Sri Lanka from query or West Indies remove West Indies from query
Start of match date between 1 Jan 1990 and 31 Dec 2014 remove between 1 Jan 1990 and 31 Dec 2014 from query
Qualifications wickets taken greater than or equal to 100 remove wickets taken greater than or equal to 100 from query
Ordered by bowling average (ascending)
Page 1 of 1 Showing 1 - 7 of 7   First pageFirst Previous pagePrevious Next Next page Last Last page dblBakArwB.gifReturn to query menu
dblBakArwW.gifCleared query menu
Overall figures
Player Span Mat Inns Overs Mdns Runs Wkts BBI BBM AveAscending Econ SR 5 10  
R Ashwin 2011-2014 23 42 1160.4 226 3403 114 7/103 12/85 29.85 2.93 61.0 9 2 investigate this query
PP Ojha 2009-2013 23 46 1234.1 293 3294 109 6/47 10/89 30.22 2.66 67.9 7 1 investigate this query
A Kumble 1990-2008 121 216 6357.0 1447 17248 566 10/74 14/149 30.47 2.71 67.3 33 8 investigate this query
J Srinath 1991-2002 58 103 2153.4 500 6269 203 8/86 13/132 30.88 2.91 63.6 9 1 investigate this query
Harbhajan Singh 1998-2013 91 166 4310.0 779 12323 376 8/84 15/217 32.77 2.85 68.7 24 5 investigate this query
Z Khan 2001-2014 79 139 2759.0 559 8921 259 5/29 9/134 34.44 3.23 63.9 9 0 investigate this query
I Sharma 2007-2014 58 101 2003.3 373 6716 177 7/74 10/108 37.94 3.35 67.9 6 1

 

 

WKs during the 1990-2014 period:

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Primary team India remove India from query
Opposition team Australia remove Australia from query or England remove England from query or New Zealand remove New Zealand from query or Pakistan remove Pakistan from query or South Africa remove South Africa from query or Sri Lanka remove Sri Lanka from query or West Indies remove West Indies from query
Start of match date between 1 Jan 1990 and 31 Dec 2014 remove between 1 Jan 1990 and 31 Dec 2014 from query
Wicketkeeper as designated wicketkeeper remove as designated wicketkeeper from query
Qualifications runs scored greater than or equal to 500 remove runs scored greater than or equal to 500 from query
Ordered by batting average (descending)
Page 1 of 1 Showing 1 - 4 of 4   First pageFirst Previous pagePrevious Next Next page Last Last page dblBakArwB.gifReturn to query menu
dblBakArwW.gifCleared query menu
Overall figures
Player Span Mat Inns NO Runs HS AveDescending 100 50 0  
MS Dhoni 2005-2014 87 140 14 4683 224 37.16 6 31 10 investigate this query
PA Patel 2002-2008 20 30 7 683 69 29.69 0 4 4 investigate this query
KS More 1990-1993 20 25 5 546 73 27.30 0 5 2 investigate this query
NR Mongia 1994-2001 43 66 8 1441 152 24.84 1 6 5

 

 

To summarize the 1990-2014 period: 

  • Great pool of batting talent, many of whom had good secondary skills in bowling 
  • Bowling talent pool was relatively limited. The bowling averages are 30 or more, while the SR is 61+ 
  • Those playing as WKs averaged less than 40, which did not strengthen the batting as desired. Gilchrist, the benchmark, averaged 46 when you exclude BD and Zim  

 

 

Therefore in the 1990-2014, India had a strong case of playing the extra batsman, who was among the best talents in the country and when a bunch of those playing as batsmen could bowl effectively too as the 5th bowler. 

 

 

Let us look at the numbers from 2015 to Present period. 

 

Batting

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Primary team India remove India from query
Opposition team Australia remove Australia from query or England remove England from query or New Zealand remove New Zealand from query or Pakistan remove Pakistan from query or South Africa remove South Africa from query or Sri Lanka remove Sri Lanka from query or West Indies remove West Indies from query
Start of match date greater than or equal to 1 Jan 2015 remove greater than or equal to 1 Jan 2015 from query
Qualifications runs scored greater than or equal to 500 remove runs scored greater than or equal to 500 from query and batting average greater than or equal to 40 remove batting average greater than or equal to 40 from query
Ordered by batting average (descending)
Page 1 of 1 Showing 1 - 4 of 4   First pageFirst Previous pagePrevious Next Next page Last Last page dblBakArwB.gifReturn to query menu
dblBakArwW.gifCleared query menu
Overall figures
Player Span Mat Inns NO Runs HS AveDescending BF SR 100 50 0 4s 6s  
V Kohli 2015-2019 43 71 4 4003 243 59.74 6768 59.14 15 10 4 425 10 investigate this query
CA Pujara 2015-2019 39 63 3 3181 202 53.01 7186 44.26 12 12 5 358 7 investigate this query
RR Pant 2018-2019 9 15 1 696 159* 49.71 943 73.80 2 2 1 70 17 investigate this query
RG Sharma 2015-2018 17 30 5 1009 102* 40.36 1810 55.74 1 9 1 86 25 investigate this query

 

 

Bowling

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Primary team India remove India from query
Opposition team Australia remove Australia from query or England remove England from query or New Zealand remove New Zealand from query or Pakistan remove Pakistan from query or South Africa remove South Africa from query or Sri Lanka remove Sri Lanka from query or West Indies remove West Indies from query
Start of match date greater than or equal to 1 Jan 2015 remove greater than or equal to 1 Jan 2015 from query
Qualifications wickets taken greater than or equal to 20 remove wickets taken greater than or equal to 20 from query
Ordered by bowling average (ascending)
Page 1 of 1 Showing 1 - 9 of 9   First pageFirst Previous pagePrevious Next Next page Last Last page dblBakArwB.gifReturn to query menu
dblBakArwW.gifCleared query menu
Overall figures
Player Span Mat Inns Overs Mdns Runs Wkts BBI BBM AveAscending Econ SR 5 10  
B Kumar 2015-2018 9 17 252.1 67 730 34 5/33 8/96 21.47 2.89 44.5 2 0 investigate this query
JJ Bumrah 2018-2019 10 20 402.4 95 1073 49 6/33 9/86 21.89 2.66 49.3 3 0 investigate this query
RA Jadeja 2015-2019 27 52 1259.5 316 2998 135 7/48 10/154 22.20 2.37 55.9 7 1 investigate this query
R Ashwin 2015-2018 39 74 1791.2 374 4972 212 7/59 13/140 23.45 2.77 50.6 16 5 investigate this query
Kuldeep Yadav 2017-2019 6 10 164.5 22 579 24 5/57 6/119 24.12 3.51 41.2 2 0 investigate this query
A Mishra 2015-2016 9 18 267.4 44 853 33 4/43 7/72 25.84 3.18 48.6 0 0 investigate this query
Mohammed Shami 2015-2019 29 56 848.2 160 2700 103 6/56 6/74 26.21 3.18 49.4 3 0 investigate this query
I Sharma 2015-2018 26 49 736.3 164 2001 73 5/51 8/86 27.41 2.71 60.5 2 0 investigate this query
UT Yadav 2015-2018 27 54 714.5 138 2367 70 6/88 10/133 33.81 3.31 61.2 1 1 investigate this query

 

 

To summarize the 2015 to Present period

  • Only 4 batsmen average 40 or more. Rishabh Pant, who plays as the WK averages close to 50. Rohit Sharma's average is more condition dependent. We do not have batsmen who can serve as the 5th bowler like what some of those mentioned used to in the past 
  • Almost all bowlers average less than 30 and also have a SR of less than 61. Though the performances of spinners and bowlers such as Bhuvneshwar Kumar are condition dependent. Unlike in the past, Bowling is the key strength for India  
  • With Pant, we have a WK whose batting can be leveraged much like Gilchrist's 

 

 

Therefore, by playing the 6th batsman, who many times is more like a glorified nightwatchman, we are not necessarily strengthening our line up. The WK Pant performs better than the 6th batsman. Our bowling is more focused on picking wickets, which means that they prefer to be used in relatively shorter spells where they can bowl with all their force rather than bowling within themselves to get more overs in. To keep these bowlers relatively fresh and keep bowling them at their full force, the role of the 5th bowler gets paramount. 

 

Considering that now we have a) a WK that has the ability to average 40+, and b) batsmen who do not bowl that often and those playing as the 6th batsman produce diminishing returns, the best way to add the 5th bowler is to play an Allrounder (AR), who can add value to both bowling and batting. 

 

 

Hardik Pandya 

 

Among ARs, Hardik Pandya is unique in the sense that he not only has the ability to hit test 100s and change the game with his batting abilities, but also bowl at 140+. As a fielder, he is also among the best in the country. 

 

Below is Pandya's performance so far in Test cricket: 

Records type all-round analysis [change type]
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Ordered by start date (ascending)
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Career averages
  Mat Runs HS Bat Av 100 Wkts BBI Bowl Av 5 Ct St Ave Diff  
overall 11 532 108 31.29 1 17 5/28 31.05 1 7 0 0.23

 

 

Pandya in matches won:

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Match result won match remove won match from query
Ordered by start date (ascending)
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Career averages
  Mat Runs HS Bat Av 100 Wkts BBI Bowl Av 5 Ct St Ave Diff  
unfiltered 11 532 108 31.29 1 17 5/28 31.05 1 7 0 0.23 Profile
filtered 6 323 108 46.14 1 10 5/28 18.70 1 6 0 27.44

 

 

For someone in his first season, the stats are good as:

  • Pandya has mostly played in difficult batting conditions in SA and Eng, where many specialist batsmen have averages much less. In Asia, he averages 60+ with the bat. And has a 50+ score in each of the series he has played in  
  • Pandya, a pace bowler, has bowled mostly with a relatively soft ball to bowl overs when the new ball is around the corner. His bowling average and SR improve when he bowls with a relatively hard ball where he won India a test in Eng with a career best of 5/28 

 

 

With most of the other ARs, we see that they have a dominant primary skill. Pandya is also unique as he does not appear to have a dominant primary skill.  Since he is equally good at both batting and bowling, one challenge for him would be to figure out the area of his main focus. Because he would be more of a 4th or 5th bowler, my recommendation is that he focus more on his batting. Pandya could use someone like Gilchrist, who is an WK AR and a flamboyant batsman who can change the game with his batting when playing in the lower middle batting order, as a reference for performances in tests. 

 

 

Another AR who much like Pandya is equally good in both departments in Jason Holder. Below is how Jason Holder performed in his first two years: 

Records type all-round analysis [change type]
View series averages [change view]
Opposition team Australia remove Australia from query or England remove England from query or India remove India from query or New Zealand remove New Zealand from query or Pakistan remove Pakistan from query or South Africa remove South Africa from query or Sri Lankaremove Sri Lanka from query
Start of match date less than or equal to 26 Jun 2016 remove less than or equal to 26 Jun 2016 from query
Ordered by start date (ascending)
dblBakArwB.gifReturn to query menu
dblBakArwW.gifCleared query menu
Career averages
  Mat Runs HS Bat Av 100 Wkts BBI Bowl Av 5 Ct St Ave Diff  
unfiltered 36 1761 202* 33.86 3 88 6/59 28.29 5 28 0 5.56 Profile
filtered 13 546 103* 27.30 1 21 3/15 39.00 0 10 0 -11.69

 

 

The above shows us that unique ARs need some time to develop. ARs do not always appear ready made. Once such talent is identified, teams have to make an effort to develop them. Once developed, they become a force to be reckoned with as they can win their team games both with the bat and the ball. 

 

 

Considering the various points discussed with respect to current talent pool in batting, bowling and wicket keeping, Pandya should be played in tests especially on batting friendly and sporting pitches. By playing Tests, Pandya will improve as a cricketer which will help India in LOIs as well. 

 

The Pant-Pandya combination slotted at 6-7 is impactful and has the potential to become a game changer for India. With that, India can optimize its 5 batting and 4 bowling slots. To me, an optimized Test line up for 2020s appears like the one below: 

 

Agarwal

Shaw

Pujara

Kohli

Gill

Pant

Pandya

Pacer / Spinner per conditions

Kuldeep (can be developed as a most conditions spinner) 

Shami (Wicket taking pace bowler)

Bumrah (Wicket taking pace bowler) 

 

  • Currently, Shaw, Gill, Pant, Panyda, Kuldeep and Bumrah are among the best talents in the country and 25 years old or less. If India invests in them, it can reap great rewards in near future

 

 

 

References / Acknowledgements

  • Cricinfo for stats / numbers 

 

 

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