Mumbai :A game-changer in his hey-days, South African all-rounder Lance Klusener foresees India’s Hardik Pandya closing in on someone like Ben Stokes if the team management can be “patient” with him for the next two years at least. “Among current all-rounders in world cricket, Ben Stokes is right up there.
There are a few who have come and gone in recent times as well but certainly, a guy like Pandya, give him a year or two at this level, there is no reason why he can’t be one of the best all-rounders out there,” Klusener told in an interview here Wednesday. Klusener, who is in the city as senior Delhi team’s consultant coach for the Vijay Hazare Trophy, spoke at length about Pandya’s all-round abilities which have come under the scanner after his largely disappointing show in England.
“I think we must be careful while making comparisons. Everybody wants to compare Hardik to the great Kapil Dev. Hardik is his own cricketer. Of course, he has got some learning to do. I guess Hardik’s success will be based on how much he is able to learn,” Klusener said. The 1999 World Cup player of the tournament said Pandya has a fine support system to hone him.
“I think he is in great hands in that Indian set-up. I think people just need to be a bit more patient with him. I hope he is allowed to grow and develop,” said Klusener. For someone, who boasts of a highest score of 174 and bowling figures of 8/64 in Test cricket, Klusener feels that it’s a seam bowling all-rounder, who makes the difference in a good team.
“For me, the glue for any team is the seam bowling all-rounder because it gives you a lot more options. I think India have got the right man. It’s just that how he grows and develops himself. It’s easy to criticise but international cricket is tough out there. “I think Hardik should be given space and allowed to grow. He is going to be that glue for India for a long time,” the 47-year-old said.
Klusener, who represented the Proteas in 49 Tests and 171 ODIs, is confident that in another two years, Pandya will be ready in the next two years if he can work on his weaknesses. Pandya scored 164 runs in eight innings in England and critics felt that at times he trusted his defensive technique too much. Klusener thinks that someone with natural ability to hit the ball should always try and play his natural game unless he batting with someone of Virat Kohli’s calibre at the other end.
“His defensive technique needs a little bit of work but he is a natural striker of the ball. That needs to be encouraged. We have seen faster scoring by Stokes at the bottom of the line-up. That makes a big difference. “Maybe Hardik needs to have the technique to defend when someone like Virat Kohli is batting at the other end. I am sure the Indian support staff have identified that weakness. The longer he plays, the longer he will be in that set-up and realise what a great talent he is,” Klusener said.
“And you can only take advantage of that great talent, if you give yourself opportunity to get in (get set). That’s one area he needs to pay a little bit of attention.” On his assignment as Delhi’s white ball cricket consultant, Klusener was all praise for Indian youngsters, who are ever-ready to soak in information.
“For me, coaching in India is probably the ultimate. One of the things I like in India is about response of the players to learning. That’s probably why its best cricketing nation out there. “People are keen to learn and listen. When I was offered this job by the DDCA, I jumped at the opportunity. I will be here till October 20 and comeback during Mushtaq Ali Trophy,” he informed.
Punjab fall short again
Ludhiana: Services overcame hosts Punjab 1-0 in the final to win the 69th National Football Championship for Santosh Trophy at Guru Nanak Stadium here today.
Bikash Thapa’s 61st-minute strike proved the difference between the two sides as Services’ recent dominance in the tournament continued. Of Services’ six titles, five have come in the last eight years — in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019. Since losing to Punjab in the 2008 title match in Srinagar, Services have not lost in the final.
On the other hand, this was Punjab’s third defeat in the final since winning their last title in 2008. The eight-time champions had lost 2-1 to West Bengal in 2010. In their last final appearance, in 2015, they had lost to Services 5-4 on penalties at the same venue. This is the eighth time Punjab have finished as runners-up. This was the fourth time Punjab were playing hosts. In 1970 and 1974, they had emerged champions in Jalandhar.
Being the final, the match expectedly saw a slow start, with both teams playing a little cautiously. Punjab, however, were the faster off the blocks. They dominated possession and had greater depth in their attacks. The hosts created a few opportunites but couldn’t convert, with Sunny and Vikrant Singh shooting just over the bar.
However, as the match wore on, Services gained composure and got more control over the proceedings. They started building their attacks from the flanks and almost got the breakthrough just before the end of the first half.
After the changeover, Services came out with more intent and energy. They continued pushing up the flanks and the strategy paid off. Lallawmkima PC found himself on the edge of the Punjab box. He squared the ball to Thapa, who slotted it into the bottom corner. A shirtless celebration followed, for which Thapa received a yellow card.
Punjab could have restored parity in the dying minutes but Services goalkeeper Vishnu VK made some valiant saves to ensure his side won the coveted trophy after three years.
Services skipper N Suresh Meitei was adjudged the Player of the Match. The winners received a prize of Rs 5 lakh, while Punjab pocketed Rs 3.5 lakh.
Pakistan cricketer seeks Tendulkar’s advice before WC
Lahore: Picked in Pakistan’s World Cup squad, opener Abid Ali sought advice from Sachin Tendulkar ahead of the showpiece and said he wants to hug the Indian batting great.
The 31-year old has been in prolific form in Pakistan’s domestic cricket and broke into the national one-day squad for the World Cup after scoring a century on his debut against Australia in Dubai last month.
The immensely talented Abid bats in a manner similar to one of cricket’s all-time greats.
“It’s my wish and hope that I meet Sachin Tendulkar. Definitely, I would like to hug him and I am sure that just like all great players meet youngsters I am sure that he will not turn me down.
“I am sure that if I want to get any information on cricket from Sachin, he will give a positive reply,” Abid told a group of journalists.
Abid said meeting his idol would be a memorable moment.
“It will be the best day in my life when I meet him (Tendulkar) because he was one of the best batsmen.
“West Indian Viv Richards was also a great so I want to meet all the great players and learn from them,” said Abid.
MU suffer fifth straight defeat with 0-4 loss to Everton
London: A woeful Manchester United suffered their fifth straight away defeat, in all competitions, with a 4-0 Premier League hammering at the hands of a vibrant Everton at Goodison Park.
Brazilian Richarlison fired Everton ahead in the 13th minute with an acrobatic high volley after Dominic Calvert-Lewin flicked on a long throw.
Gylfi Sigurdsson made it 2-0 with a low drive from over 25 yards out that United keeper David De Gea was slow to react to.
Lucas Digne then blasted in the third in the 56th minute after De Gea punched out a corner to the French full-back as United struggled to get even a foot in the game.
Icelandic playmaker Sigurdsson then put substitute Theo Walcott through with a clever pass through the legs of Victor Lindelof which the former Arsenal striker confidently converted.
United, eliminated from the Champions League by Barcelona on Tuesday, remain in sixth, outside the four qualification spots for next season`s campaign.