India meet Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup 2023 final on Sunday. Rohit Sharma's men might have lost to Bangladesh in their final Super 4 fixture but that doesn't deter their confidence going into the big game. (More Cricket News)
The Men In Blue has seen many top individual performances so far in the tournament but one name that has come leaps and bounds is all-rounder Hardik Pandya. According to former India batting coach Sanjay Bangar, he feels Hardik has grown in stature as India's premier all-rounder in the last couple of years.
According to Bangar, the colourful Baroda cricketer gives the team a lot of balance and will be a vital presence in the World Cup. Pandya will return to action during the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka on Sunday, after he was given a rest in the Super Four match against Bangladesh. The final of Asia Cup 2023 will be played in Colombo.
"He has matured a lot over the years. He had some setbacks in terms of his fitness but he has now worked hard to reach where he is now. He has shouldered the responsibilities very well, and is captaining India in T20s. He gives a lot of balance to the team being an all-rounder," Bangar, who is Colombo as the 'Star Sports' expert, told PTI.
Pandya will also have to shoulder the responsibility of third seamer behind Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, which Bangar said will give India attack a complete look.
"We have one of the best attacks going into the World Cup. We have two fine new ball bowlers in Bumrah and Siraj, and then there is the experienced Shami. Kuldeep (Yadav) has so many variations, as he offers a wicket-taking option."
"(Ravindra) Jadeja too is around. As we spoke earlier, Hardik does give India a wonderful option with the ball. Overall, I think India has a strong and complete bowling line-up going into the World Cup," said Bangar.
The former India all-rounder said winning the Asia Cup will boost India's confidence ahead of the World Cup.
"It is really important because it will be a confidence booster entering a tournament like the World Cup. After all, there is nothing like winning a big title and going into the World Cup," said Bangar.
The former India all-rounder said playing in the Asia Cup ahead of the World Cup will stand India in good stead because of the level of competition and conditions similar to back home.
"It is an important part of the preparation (for WC). It is in ODI format, and the pitches are pretty much similar (to India), and all the teams from the sub-continent are playing here.
"Asia Cup is a tough tournament and the level of competition is very high. We have seen some closely contested matches here, and it is an ideal preparation ahead of the WC,” he added.
(With PTI inputs)