India has always produced high-quality spin all-rounders. Look at the current scenario, and you will find an endless list of high-profile spin all-rounders, Krishnappa Gowtham, Krunal Pandya, Shreyas Gopal, Axar Patel being some of the names from that huge list. However, you can count on fingers the number of pace bowling all-rounders.
Luckily for the men-in-blue, Hardik Pandya has emerged as one of the players in that list. Since his debut, the hard-hitting all-rounder has shown the ability to perform in the pressure situations with the bat. Moreover, he has now become an equally reliable option with the ball, from whom Virat Kohli looks to get a full quota of overs.
His value has increased so much now, that it is necessary to manage his workload and provide him with rest at regular intervals. In that case, some other pace-bowling all-rounders can also be tried. If any of them succeed, it would only do good for the team, since you need more all-rounders in the T20I format. Therefore, let us take a look at some of the players, who can be a backup for Hardik:
1. Vijay Shankar
In a small career, Vijay has shown the sparks of talent but failed to bring it out like a fire. The all-rounder from Tamil Nadu came into limelight with a match-saving knock of 45 against New Zealand, after the team was found reeling at 18-4. He followed it up with another all-round performance against Australia in the 2nd ODI, where he scored 46 before scalping 2 wickets in 3 deliveries to seal the deal for hosts.
On the back of his back-to-back impressive games, Vijay managed to overpower Ambati Rayadu and many others to be selected as the number 4 for India for the World Cup. Since then, there was a constant dip in his form in both the departments. After having a horrendous IPL campaign, Vijay failed in each of the three opportunities he got in the World Cup.
However, it needs no revision that Shankar can be a bright prospect for India. He has often delivered in the tense situation. What he needs is consistency, which he can obtain from a domestic stint. Also, he needs to focus more on his bowling, for he hasn’t been seen bowling as much as he should.
2. Shivam Dube
On the eve of the IPL auction, Dube smashed 5 consecutive sixes off Swapnil Singh. The very next day, he was picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore for a whopping sum of 5 crores. Unfortunately for the 26-year-old, the poor form did not help his cause, as he got to play in only 4 matches.
He did not have much to show in those outings, with 24 against Delhi Capitals being his only double-digit score. Shivam returned to the first-class cricket and instantly gained form. He has played many match-winning knocks for India-A in recent times. Add to it, he has been pretty economical with the ball as well.
In such a young career, it is difficult to predict if Shivam would be able to match the levels of Hardik Pandya. But if he goes on with his current form, he might not be very far from earning an international call-up. Also, IPL 2020 gives him a chance to showcase what he has learned in the past year and win the hearts of none other than Virat Kohli.
3. Kamlesh Nagarkoti
Nagarkoti is one of the brightest prospects of Indian cricket. Not very often do we find a bowler in India who clocks at 150+, but the 19-year-old is one of those bowlers. One of the finds of the Under 19 World Cup 2018, he has shown a lot of promise in the initial phase of his career.
The biggest challenge for the pacer has been the injuries. This has forced him to pull out of two consecutive IPL seasons now. KKR bought him for 3.2 crores but unfortunately failed to get his services. Ultimately, the battle is now face-to-face between him and injuries.
Apart from an excellent bowler, he is also a handy batsman. He has 131 runs in 7 first-class innings, which includes an unbeaten half-century. If injuries stop following him like a shadow, Nagarkoti can emerge out as a premier option for the men-in-blue in the upcoming years.
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