Is Hardik Pandya comparable with Kapil Dev?

Kolkata: Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin on Tuesday said “there cannot be another Kapil Dev,” rubbishing the comparison of India’s first World Cup winning captain with all-rounder Hardik Pandya.

“It’s not advisable to do that,” Azhar said when asked about the two all-rounders being compared to one another.

“It’s not good. Because there can never be another Kapil Dev. It’s very difficult to get another Kapil Dev as amount of hard workload he took over a period of time, he used to bowl 20-25 overs in a day. Not many people can do it now,” the 54-year-old said about his former teammate.

Pandya, 24, is often considered as India’s best all-rounder since the days of the legendary Dev who guided India to its first ever World Cup in 1983.

Since making his Twenty20 International (T20I) debut against Australia at Adelaide in January 2016, Pandya has gone on to feature regularly in every format, also drawing a lot of praise from his captain Virat Kohli.

In the just-concluded South Africa Test series, the wiry Gujarat player failed to live up to expectations since scoring a fighting 93 in the first rubber at Cape Town, a Test India lost.

Pandya has also made some silly mistakes, like the inexplicable run out in the second innings of the second Test when India were reeling at 65/5 chasing a target of 287.

Kapil, on the other hand, has been regarded as one of India’s finest cricketers of all time, taking 434 wickets and amassing 5,248 runs in 131 Tests. In 225 ODIs, the 59-year-old has 253 scalps and 3,783 runs.

Azhar hailed India’s 63-run win in the third Test, ending the three-Test series 2-1, though not agreeing with Kohli’s decision to drop Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ajinkya Rahane for the second test.

“They could have played. But the captain thinks in a different way, the team thinks in a different way..outside everybody in India felt they should have played,” Azhar said.

It’s good that we won the last Test. We played like No.1 team on that wicket. We redeemed our prestige. India bowled and batted well.”

Azhar also said that the bowlers won India the third Test and were unlucky not to win the series.

“The bowlers have won the last test match. they really put South African batsmen under pressure. We were bit unlucky that we could not get the series our way.”

He backed Kohli as captain, saying his record speaks for itself.

“I think he has done well. His record is good and it speaks for itself.”

Asked if captains today get more leeway than their predecessors, Azhar said, “Every captain has his say. Nothing like that.”

India will now play six ODIs starting February 1 in Durban.

Azhar said the tourists have a good chance provided the batting clicks. “We have a good side and we should be able to beat them. In the One days, hopefully our batting will click.”

On a different note, the stylish right-hander, in the city as the chief guest at Delhi Public School’s Annual Sports Day, said he will be meeting Committee of Administrators (CoA) chairman Vinod Rai soon regarding the post of president of the Hyderabad Cricket Association which he has been cleared to contest by the BCCI.

“I am fighting for it. I will meet Vinod Rai after the fracas at HCA. I will apprise him of all that is happening,” Azhar said.

The charismatic batsman, who has played over 300 ODIs for India and 99 Tests, added that he would love to take up a coaching or administrative role and that former India cricketers should be given more roles in leagues like the Indian Premier League where there is an influx of foreign coaches.

“Lot of people from abroad come and get coaching jobs here.

“The past players will not (get a) chance in Big Bash or any other league. So personally, I think those who have represented India for a fair amount of time, should also be given the opportunity,” Azhar said.

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