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Sunil Gawaskar believes Hardik Pandya bowling with the new ball can be a game changer

Sunil Gavaskar, a former Indian batting great, praised Hardik Pandya for his new role in team India, noting that his inclusion will balance other areas within the squad.

India were defeated by South Africa by seven wickets in their first Twenty20 International match at the Arun Jaitely Stadium in Delhi. While batting first, the home team scored 211 runs, but bowlers struggled to defend, drawing criticism from fans and former players.

After being hit for three sixes by Dwaine Pretorius, Pandya returned to international cricket and bowled one over for 18 runs. Pandya finished the game for India with an unbeaten 31 runs off 12 balls. He was also chastised for denying Dinesh Karthik a single in the final over.

Pandya batted at number five, allowing India to field three key pacers and two spinners in the first match. India batted first with three pacers (Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harshal Patel, and Avesh Khan) and two spinners (Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel).

Former English spinner Graeme Swann agreed, saying, “I think the all-round package of Hardik Pandya gives India options in selection.” It may allow you to play an extra spinner or a bowler less and strengthen your batting, and going into the World Cup, I believe having him as a full-fledged all-rounder is critical to India’s team balance.”