In Rohit Sharma’s absence, Pandya will captain India in the three-match T20I series in New Zealand, which begins on November 18. Following India’s exit from the T20 World Cup in the semi-finals, calls have been growing to appoint Pandya as full-time T20 leader. Rohit took over as T20I captain - and later as full-time skipper - after Virat Kohli stepped down following the 2021 T20 World Cup.
Speaking on the Star Sports show 'Match Point', Pathan said, "I’m not saying that if you change the captain you change the result, if you go like that you’re not going to change the result. And with Hardik Pandya, you need to understand, we all need to understand, that he’s a fast bowling all-rounder. He has injury issues as well. What if he is your captain who is getting injured right before the World Cup? And if you don’t have any other leader ready, you’ll be in a mess.
"So, what I personally think is that Hardik Pandya is a leader, who has done very well in the Gujarat Titians, won IPL, won the championship trophy. You need to find not one, but two leaders going forward to build their mark. You know just like we talk about openers - we need to have a group of openers, we also need to have a group of leaders," the former cricketer added.
Chipping in on the topic, former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop opined that Rishabh Pant could be a good captaincy option, considering his personality. The keeper-batter has been named vice-captain of the T20I and ODI team for the New Zealand series.
Bishop commented, "Hardik, I was so impressed with what he did in the IPL. In T20 cricket, successful teams need a risk-taker. Gambler is the wrong word but in keeping with the action format and action captain. So I would say Hardik. I don’t if I have seen enough of Rishabh’s improvement. But he has got personality but if you can make him into one of those, I don’t think it would be a bad idea."
Pant had led India in a five-match T20I series against South Africa at home earlier this year after stand-in captain KL Rahul was ruled out.
--By A Cricket Correspondent