Former India captain Rahul Dravid said on Tuesday that the young all-rounder Hardik Pandya was the one who has turned his career around by playing as the situations demanded in the ongoing One-day International (ODI) series against Australia. Reiterating his comment, Dravid further added that he hoped that the current India A players are able to emulate Pandya's batting approach. Dravid, who was Pandya's coach during an India A tour of Australia last year, also remarked that credit goes completely to the player for stepping up to the occasions.
"A good example about Hardik from my perspective is, he's willing to play situations and not just the natural game we often speak about. Credit goes completely to him. It's not about playing just the one way you want to play," Dravid said.
"He's the one who has actually turned his career around," Dravid was quoted by PTI as telling ESPNcricinfo.com.
Pandya, who has grabbed the headlines with his six-hitting prowess, has scored two match-winning half-centuries in three games so far.
In the first ODI, Pandya, along with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, had revived India's fortunes with a match-turning 83, while in the third game, where he was promoted to No. 4 after the openers put on a century stand in a chase of 294, Pandya sustained the momentum by scoring 78.
"If he bats at four, he bats in a particular way. If he bats at six, he bats in a particular way. Tomorrow, he may bat at 80 for 4, like he did in the first ODI with Dhoni. That shows maturity and that's what you want to see.
"This concept of 'play your natural game', which I hear all the time, frustrates me because there's no such thing in my belief as 'natural game.' It's only about how you play different situations," Dravid, who has been coaching India's U-19 and A teams for over two years now, said.
He feels Pandya is a perfect example of how to bat differently in different conditions.
"You have to learn to bat differently in different conditions, and if you can do that like Hardik is showing at the moment, those would be signs of a developing cricketer, someone who can make consistent contributions and not someone who is a one-off, who can produce brilliance once in a while.
"The aspiration and challenges set for a lot of India A players is to be all-weather players, all-situation players, all-condition players."
Rishabh Pant is another big hitter who made his international debut earlier this year against England after graduating from the Under-19s in 2016.
But his aggression has cut short a few of his promising innings and Dravid, who has worked with Pant for over two years now, stressed on the importance of providing the players with a learning environment.
"It's recognition of the fact that someone like Rishabh will always be an attacking player. You don't want to take away his attacking instincts, but you want to inculcate a certain sense of smartness to be able to read situations and recognise situations where the time is hot for you to make it count," said Dravid.
(With PTI inputs)