Not Hardik Pandya, ex-India cricketer backs star player as captain Rohit Sharma’s ideal successor in white-ball cricket

The former India cricketer has backed the star batter to become Rohit Sharma’s ideal successor in the limited-overs format. Hardik Pandya has emerged as a strong leadership candidate following a blockbuster season in 2022.

With India continuing its leadership reshuffle for the New Zealand tour, all-rounder Hardik Pandya and veteran opener Shikhar Dhawan captained the Rohit Sharma-less side in the absence of designated vice-captain KL Rahul and injured pacer Jasprit Bumrah. While Dhawan only gets to lead Rohit-less India in the 50-over format, Pandya has emerged as a strong leadership candidate following his blockbuster captaincy debut in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022.

Interestingly, legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar and ex-India head coach Ravi Shastri feel there is no harm in appointing Pandya as the new T20I captain of the Men In Blue. At a time when Pandya has eclipsed the likes of Rishabh Pant and Rahul in the captaincy race, former India cricketer Maninder Singh has tipped another star performer to challenge the white-ball maverick for the top post in the limited-overs format.

Responding to a Hindustan Times query during a special media interaction organised by the Sony Sports Network in the lead-up to the Bangladesh series, former India cricketer Maninder hailed superstar Shreyas Iyer as captain Rohit’s ideal successor in the limited-overs format. Premier batter Iyer is spearheading India’s middle order in Bangladesh while star all-rounder Pandya has been rested for the bilateral series.

“I’ve been saying this for the past 3-4 years, you know Shreyas Iyer is my favourite, whenever I have seen him lead any side, when he led the IPL side or anywhere, he looks like a good thinker of the game. He’s got a good head on his shoulders, and he is somebody who is very positive. You can see his approach when he bats, whenever he comes to bat he is looking for runs. He is not somebody who thinks that – ‘I’m gonna stay at the wicket for sometime, and then I start scoring runs’. If he doesn’t get boundaries from the word go, you can see him rotating his strike, he is looking for singles, trying to find the gaps and that’s his quality,” Maninder explained.

Maninder, who played 35 Tests and 59 One Day Internationals (ODIs) for India, also observed that all-rounder Pandya is ready to take over the captaincy reins from veteran opener Rohit in white-ball cricket. Talking about star batter Iyer, the former Indian cricketer and full-time cricket pundit urged the selectors to give the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) captain a longer rope across all formats of the game.

“For me, I still feel, I’ve said it earlier Hardik Pandya at the moment – you can make him the captain in white-ball cricket. But in my mind, its Shreyas Iyer, actually (a candidate) for the past 3-4 years. I really hope that we give him opportunities to play for India regularly in all the formats because he has a good brain,” the ex-India cricketer added.