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Asia Cup: Hardik Pandya is a game-changer, says MS Dhoni

All-rounder Pandya impresses skipper MS Dhoni with his big-hitting abilities

Mirpur: Impressed with Hardik Pandya's ability to hit big shots from the first ball, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said the youngster has proved to be a "game changer" for India with his all-round talent.

India all-rounder Hardik Pandya during the first Twenty20 international against Bangladesh at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Wednesday. Pic/AP, PTI
India all-rounder Hardik Pandya during the first Twenty20 international against Bangladesh at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Wednesday. Pic/AP, PTI

Pandya hit a quick-fire 18-ball-31 and then bowled four tight overs with figures of 1-23 in India's 45-run win over hosts Bangladesh in the Asia Cup T20 opener.

"Good to see him bowl four overs. It will give us a lot of strength — three fast bowlers and two proper spinners. You don't need to change your team as every base is covered.

People may feel that having seven proper batsman is a luxury but what's the harm, if we have someone like him (Hardik).

"If he gets going, he gets you those 15 runs extra. If 160 is par-score, he can give you 165-175. It is good for bowlers. We wanted somebody like him. He is a game-changer," Dhoni said at the post match press conference.

"We don't need to tell Hardik anything. He knows only one thing — that is to hit the ball, that's what he does. He is someone who likes to clear the boundary," Dhoni said when asked about instructions given to Pandya when he went to bat. "The more games he will play, better he will get. But definitely he has a skill, which is a difficult one — that is to hit from the first ball."

Dhoni said Pandya's all-round ability gives the side much needed balance. "To a lot of extent, people who can bat and bowl, are able to contribute in this format."

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