The 28-year-old was dropped from the Indian team last year following the Men in Blue’s shock exit from the T20 World Cup in the UAE. He was struggling for form and the fact that he wasn’t bowling frequently affected the balance of the team.
The tide turned for Pandya during a memorable IPL 2022 campaign. Not only did he lead the Gujarat Titans (GT) to victory in their maiden IPL season, he also made significant contributions with bat and ball. He has been brilliant for India since making a comeback.
Sharing his thoughts on the all-rounder’s impressive return to the big stage, Butt said on his YouTube channel:
“Hardik Pandya is somebody on whom India banks a lot. They trust in his abilities. He has come back fitter from injury. Everyone has seen his skills and he has performed really well for India over the years. He had some fitness issues and a form slump. But since recovering from those problems, he has been scoring runs and taking wickets as well. Physically also, he is looking stronger.”
Pandya was named Player of the Series for his all-round brilliance during the one-dayers in England. He scored 100 runs in three matches and claimed six scalps.
“An outstanding spell” – Salman Butt on Hardik Pandya’s economical bowling in 3rd T20I
While Pandya was dismissed for 4 during India’s chase on Tuesday, he was terrific with the ball earlier in the day. The pacer registered figures of 1 for 19 in four overs, claiming the crucial wicket of Brandon King. Praising the all-rounder for his impressive spell, Butt said:
“In the middle overs in T20s, batting sides are looking to gain momentum and build on their platform. If you can claim a couple of wickets while giving only around 20 runs, you have done a great job. In this case, 19 runs and one wicket, this was an outstanding spell (from Hardik). This is the phase during which West Indies scored only 40-odd runs in seven overs and were dented severely.”
The former Pakistan skipper opined that since Pandya has returned to the Indian team, he has shown why he is trusted as one of the best all-rounders in white ball cricket. Concluding his thoughts on the Baroda cricketer, he stated:
“India were waiting for him to come back as his inclusion improves the balance of the team. He provides a wicket-taking option in the middle and is a match-winning batter.”
After Pandya played a key role in restricting West Indies to 164 for 5 in the third T20I, Suryakumar Yadav smashed a 44-ball 76 to lift the visitors to a seven-wicket victory.