Hardik Pandya is not a Kapil Dev... yet

Statistics show that the 24-year-old is on the right path and moving in the right direction. His recent exploits at Trent Bridge have underscored this.

August 25, 2018 03:16 pm | Updated 06:51 pm IST

Time will tell how Hardik Pandya’s verve pans out, but the trajectory of his all-round numbers isn’t too far off from that of former and contemporary greats. | AP

Time will tell how Hardik Pandya’s verve pans out, but the trajectory of his all-round numbers isn’t too far off from that of former and contemporary greats. | AP

This is a blog post from

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Runs

Batting Average

Wickets

Bowling Average

90

22.50

3

37.33

 

 

These statistics represent Hardik Pandya’s performance in India’s first two Test matches against England on this ongoing tour, at Edgbaston and Lord’s. Although these numbers show that he hadn’t been particularly impressive over these two matches, what they conceal are the promise and grit he had shown with the bat in both matches and the control he had shown with the ball during his spell of 3/66 at Lord’s. He had also faced the most number of deliveries (166) after Virat Kohli (404) among all Indian batsmen in the two matches.

Despite this, he received flak and aspersions over his selection in the Test squad, notwithstanding that his career is just 9 Test matches old and the fact that he was fast-tracked into the Test team with an experience of just 17 first-class matches.

A lot of things had been said about his credentials as a Test player and his value to the team. Michael Holding, former West Indies fast-bowling legend, was among the first to question his place in the team.

“Pandya, it seems as if he’s the golden boy in this team. Everyone thinks he’s going to be the next Kapil Dev. He hasn’t shown that yet. Why not pick a batsman [instead]? Pandya got a few runs in the second innings but he is a better batsman than Pujara? I don’t think so, and you don’t need him as a bowler in my eyes,” Holding had said after India’s loss at Edgbaston.

 

Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh was also amongst those who were unhappy with Pandya playing in the team. “We have to remove the all-rounder tag from him as an all-rounder contributes in both the departments as Stokes, Curran did in the first Test and now Woakes has done at Lord’s. The same is expected of Hardik Pandya, he cannot become Kapil Dev overnight,” Singh had said in an interview with Aaj Tak .

However, one Test match and five days later, Virat Kohli and Co.’s faith in Pandya as well as his own self-belief and confidence have trumped all the cards of criticism played against him. He has shown that he might not become a Kapil Dev or any other all-round great overnight, but he can strive to be better with each passing day. He has the ability to become one of the finest if not the best.

Following the third Test, at Trent Bridge, the aforementioned numbers have undergone a huge transformation. His batting stats for the series now read...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Runs

Batting Average

Wickets

Bowling Average

160

32

13

18

 

And this massive improvement in his series statistics has come as a result of his match-winning bowling figures of 6/50, which included a five-wicket haul in the first innings, and an unbeaten knock of 52 at a run-a-ball in the second innings at Trent Bridge, with which he has made his critics eat their own words, words he did not deserve in the first place.

He is India’s second highest run-scorer this year in Tests with 350 runs to his name at an average of 29.16. The tally of runs is second only to Virat Kohli’s 726 runs. The huge difference between their run tallies simply tells us how poor other Indian batsmen have been. His batting average is the fourth best next to those of Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Also, his three fifties this year are the most by an Indian batsman other than Kohli. With the ball too it seems he is doing absolutely fine. 12 wickets in 7 matches at an average of 29, economy of 3.24 and strike rate of 53.5 is more than anything you can ask from an all-rounder. So, these statistics tell us that he least deserved the sort of criticism he got.

In fact, even in comparison with Kapil Dev, Pandya is not doing too badly at the moment. Dev played 356 international matches in his career whereas Pandya’s 86-match-old career is still a fledgling.

A comparison of Dev’s overall Test career statistics and Pandya’s career thus far reveals that Pandya averages better both with the bat and ball as compared to Dev. While Pandya is averaging 35.20 and 27.68 with the bat and ball respectively in Tests, Dev averaged 31.05 and 29.64. Both his batting and bowling averages are marginally worse than Pandya’s. Even his bowling strike rate of 52.1 at this stage appears to be way better than Dev’s career strike rate of 63.9. However, the equation is a bit different where ODIs are concerned.

While Pandya still has a better ODI batting average of 29.13 in his career so far as compared to Dev’s overall career average of 23.79, his bowling seems to be nowhere close to Dev’s level, as is evidenced by the gulf in their respective averages — 40.35 and 27.45 — and economy rates — 5.56 and 3.71. Pandya’s ODI bowling strike rate of 43.4, though, is better than Kapil Dev’s 44.2.

However, there is a vast difference in the sample size of the data considered here. While the legendary Dev has played 131 and 225 Tests and ODIs respectively, Pandya has played only 10 Tests and 41 ODIs so far. So, if we filter down the sample size of the data and compare Pandya’s and Dev’s statistics after their first 10 matches, we may get a better idea.

 

 Pandya v. Dev Test batting comparison (first 10 matches)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player

Matches

Innings

Runs

BattingAverage

100s

50s

Hardik Pandya

10

16

528

35.2

1

4

Kapil Dev

10

14

510

42.5

1

3

 

 

 

 Pandya v. Dev Test bowling comparison (first 10 matches)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player

Matches

Innings

Wickets

BowlingAverage

Economy

Strike Rate

Hardik Pandya

10

17

16

27.28

3.18

52.1

Kapil Dev

10

17

29

39.06

3.53

66.3

 

 

 

A comparison of their batting and bowling statistics during their first 10 Tests reveals that Dev had a better batting average even though they had a nearly equal number of runs, centuries and fifties. But Pandya has far better bowling average, economy rate and strike-rate than the former India all-rounder at a similar stage. While Dev had played two innings fewer than Pandya as a batsman at this stage, the number of innings they had bowled in is similar.

 

 

 Pandya vs Dev ODI batting comparison (first 41 matches)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player

Matches

Innings

Runs

BattingAverage

100s

50s

Hardik Pandya

41

27

670

29.13

4

Kapil Dev

41

41

47

28.12

1

4

 

 

 

 Pandya vs Dev ODI bowling comparison (first 41 matches)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player

Matches

Innings

Wickets

BowlingAverage

Economy

Strike Rate

Hardik Pandya

41

40

40

40.35

5.56

43.4

Kapil Dev

41

41

47

28.12

3.54

47.6

 

 

 

 

As far as ODIs are concerned, Pandya again averages better with the bat in fewer innings. While Dev already had one century by this time — the only one in his career — Pandya is yet to score one in ODIs. They have a similar number of fifties too.

In terms of bowling, it seems Dev fared much better as a bowler as the stark difference between their bowling average and economy rate suggests. While Dev had picked up 7 ODI wickets more than Pandya, this must be qualified by acknowledging that in Dev’s era the game — including conditions, pitch behaviour, and rules — was not as skewed in favour of the batsmen as it is today. By the same token, Pandya’s superior batting records must be weighed against the relative ease of batting today — big bats, short boundaries, powerplays, etc. — as compared to Dev’s days.

Comparing present-day players with former all-round greats can, therefore, be tricky. Pandya and Dev belong to completely different eras and the dynamics of the game have changed quite a lot. So, it might be a more fruitful exercise to compare Pandya with his contemporary Ben Stokes, who is touted as the best all-rounder in the world at the moment. This would provide a more apt frame of reference to judge how the 24-year all-rounder from Baroda has performed thus far.

There’s not such a vast difference in the number of ODIs and T20Is Pandya (41 ODIs and 35 T20Is) and Stokes (70 ODIs and 22 T20Is) have played as compared to the former’s with Kapil Dev’s. However, the difference between the number of Tests each has played — Pandya has played only 10 whereas Stokes has played 44 — is still vast. So, we need to consider Stokes’ first 10 Tests here as well in order to judge Pandya’s returns so far.

 

Stokes v. Pandya Test batting comparison (first 10 matches)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player

Matches

Innings

Runs

BattingAverage

Strike Rate

100s

50s

Ben Stokes

10

18

648

36.00

64.42

2

2

Hardik Pandya

10

16

528

35.20

74.58

1

4

 

 

 

 Stokes v. Pandya Test bowling comparison (first 10 matches)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player

Matches

Innings

Wickets

BowlingAverage

Economy

Strike Rate

Ben Stokes

10

20

28

40.10

3.73

64.40

Hardik Pandya

10

17

16

27.28

3.18

52.10

 

 

 

 

After 10 Tests, Stokes and Pandya are neck and neck as batsmen. Stokes had a marginally higher batting average (36.00) as compared to what Pandya (35.20) has managed and 120 runs more, having played two more innings. But Pandya has a better strike rate of 74.58 as compared to Stokes’ 64.42, which although not important, is still a bonus in Test cricket.

As far as bowling is concerned, Pandya seems to be way better than Stokes in terms of bowling average, economy and strike-rate although the former has fewer wickets than Stokes, which is understandable as the latter had bowled in three more innings.

So, after 10 Tests, statistics establish Pandya as a far better Test bowler than Stokes and a batsman on a par with him. However, Stokes’ bowling has gone on to improve as his career has progressed. He now has 106 wickets in 44 Tests at an average of 33.50, economy of 3.36 and an improved strike rate of 59.7.

As far as batting is concerned, his statistics with an average of 34.3, even though there is a marginal drop, still read pretty much the same. It hints how Pandya’s numbers are also going to improve as his career progresses.

For ODIs, we can still compare Stokes and Pandya’s overall statistics at the present stage. The difference in sample size is not so vast. It establishes Stokes as a far better batsman, with an average of 35.50, than Pandya, who averages 29.13. However, the difference between their bowling averages is marginal — Stokes, 39.72 and Pandya, 40.35. But if the sample size is again narrowed down to the first 41 matches, it makes for an interesting reading.

 

Stokes v. Pandya ODI batting comparison (after 41 matches)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player

Matches

Innings

Runs

BattingAverage

Strike Rate

100s

50s

Ben Stokes

41

36

742

22.48

93.21

4

Hardik Pandya

41

27

670

29.13

114.52

4

 

 

 

 Stokes v. Pandya ODI bowling comparison (after 41 matches)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Player

Matches

Innings

Wickets

BowlingAverage

Economy

Strike Rate

Ben Stokes

41

31

36

36.50

6.15

35.50

Hardik Pandya

41

40

40

40.35

5.56

43.40

 

 

 

 

After 41 ODIs, statistics establish Pandya as a better ODI batsman courtesy his superior average and strike-rate. Stokes has managed to amass only 72 runs more than Pandya in the 9 additional innings he has played. However, the bowling statistics show that Stokes was a better ODI bowler at this point as compared to Pandya as far as average and strike-rate are concerned. But Pandya has proven to be more economical at this stage.

As far as T20Is are concerned, Pandya has played 13 more games than Stokes has. The Indian all-rounder has only 272 runs to his name while Stokes has 206. Both are lower-order batsmen and get less time to bat in the middle. So, a comparison of their averages won’t be just. However, Pandya has 33 wickets in 35 T20Is at an average of 23.96, economy of 8.00 and strike-rate of 17.90. These are considered excellent bowling returns in this format. But Stokes has only 10 wickets in 22 matches at a poor average of 49.60, high economy rate of 8.91 and a dismal strike-rate of 33.4.

 

 

So, the above comparisons conclude that none of the players are born greats. Both Kapil Dev and Ben Stokes had similar numbers as compared to Pandya when they started. They only got better as their careers progressed. That explains why people need to criticise Pandya less and be more inclined to be patient with him. People may still perceive him to be not as good as the likes of Stokes and Dev. But numbers don’t lie and they give us hardly any reason to complain. They only show us the truth and state the facts. And the facts say that the 24-year-old is on the right path and moving in the right direction. His recent exploits at Trent Bridge have underscored this. Now, he is only destined to shine brighter.

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