Kohli: Pandya can become India’s Ben Stokes

“I have a lot of faith in him as far as any format is concerned”

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Virat Kohli believes that all-rounder Hardik Pandya has all the necessary skills and qualities to become India’s Ben Stokes.

Stokes, who plays for England, has established himself as one of the best all-rounders in international cricket today due to his ability to wreak havoc with both the bat and ball.

Given that Pandya struck a 49-ball 50 and took one wicket in his Test debut against Sri Lanka in Galle, Kohli admitted that the 23-year-old is starting to become a valuable member of the national team.

“When you play away from home, one guy (all-rounder) gives you a lot of balance, and I think Hardik can be that guy going ahead, specially playing so much cricket away from home,” the Indian captain told reporters after India’s 304-run win on Saturday. “If he grows in confidence — you see someone like Ben Stokes, what he does for England. Brings in great balance as an all-rounder. I see no reason why Hardik Pandya can’t become that for India.”

Even though Pandya failed to take any wickets in the second innings of the match, Kohli conceded that he was highly impressed with how much trouble the Sri Lankan batsmen had when facing him.

“First innings, he didn’t get the opportunity to bowl much but I think in the second innings, he bowled really nicely on a wicket that wasn’t offering much and he kept it in the right areas,” Kohli said. “He used the bouncer well. He bowls around 135 (kilometres per hour), when he bends his back he can go higher. So he is a great asset and I have mentioned this before as well.

“And specially his batting … He got 50 quickly and that saves you time as well. That gives you another 15 overs to bowl at the opposition. And his fielding is also tremendous.”

Pandya is already a regular face in India’s limited overs squads, but Kohli sees no reason why the Gujarat native can’t cement his place in the Test side as well.

“I have a lot of faith in him as far as any format is concerned,” Kohli added. “Test cricket, he has got the technique. He is a really good batsman.

“You might not look at it precisely but we understand how much he can bring to the table, and I surely have a lot of faith in him that he will be able to perform on any surface on which he plays.”

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