Hardik Pandya to critics: Will be happy if you stop comparing me with Kapil Dev

Hardik Pandya has said he never wanted to be Kapil Dev and that he doesn’t enjoy being compared to the legendary Indian all-rounder.

The 24-year-old had been facing a lot of criticism over the last few weeks as he was unable to play the support role to the frontline pacers to good effect. He had gone wicket-less at Edgbaston in the first Test but picked up three during Lord’s defeat.

West Indies great Michael Holding had even told ESPNCricinfo that Pandya is “not there yet” as a Test all-rounder and pointed out that lack of consistency when it comes to bowling was one of his major weaknesses.

However, it is safe to say Pandya has, at least for the moment, silenced his critics with Sunday’s spell of high-quality swing bowling in the ongoing third Test at Trent Bridge. The Baroda all-rounder broke the back of England’s batting line-up and picked up his maiden fifer in Tests.

“I don’t play for them (critics). They are getting paid for what they saying, which I don’t even want to know about. I don’t’ even care what they say. I play for my county. I am doing my job — play for my county and they’re doing their job,” Pandya told the media after the second day’s play in Nottingham.

“I am doing the right things, my team is happy with me. Nothing else matters.”

“The problem with this is, they compare but all of a sudden if something goes wrong, they’ll be like he’s not as good. I never wanted to be Kapil Dev. Let me be Hardik Pandya, I have reached this stage.

“I have played 10 Test matches and 40 ODIs being Hardik Pandya, not Kapil Dev. They’re greats of their era. Let me be Hardik Pandya. Stop comparing me to anyone. I will be happy if you don’t.”

Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya picked up his maiden fifer in Tests on Sunday.PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
In the past, India had been looking for a fast-bowling all-rounder without much success. On overseas tours, former captains of the likes of MS Dhoni and Rahul Dravid have struggled without a quality extra seamer.

Pandya’s impressive performances in the shorter formats of the game urged the team management to hand him a Test berth during India’s tour of Sri Lanka last year. Ever since the Mumbai Indians star had been blowing hot and cold.

Hardik Pandya
Pandya troubled the English batsmen by keeping it simple on Sunday.PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Pandya kept it simple on Sunday but bowled the right lines and lengths, often inviting English batsmen to drive. With the very first ball of his spell, he got the big fish — Joe Root.

He bowled an unplayable outswinger to get rid of wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow. He finished with figures of 6-1-28-5 and led the Indian team back to the dressing room after England were bowled out for 161, in reply to the visitors’ first innings total of 329.

Pandya often uses the width of the crease to good effect, revealed that Ishant Sharma had helped him keep it simple during the second session, in which India took all 10 English wickets.

“Ishy [Ishant] was telling me the same thing: don’t go for the wickets, if you keep bowling at the rights areas, you have the talent to get them,” Pandya said.

“That’s the same thing I tell him and the same thing which we tell other bowlers. Keep it tight, let’s see what they do, let’s check their patience and once again we saw the result what happens.”

India are in the driver’s seat in the third Test, thanks to Pandya’s stunning spell on Sunday. The visitors, who are trailing 2-0 in the five-match series, are well on their way to stage a comeback.