'Hardik could be crucial factor against Pakistan'
Former Australia speedster Mitchell Johnson feels all-rounder Hardik Pandya could be among the key men when India take on arch-rivals Pakistan in the Asia Cup in UAE on September 19.
"Against Pakistan, India's age-old cricketing rival and neighbour, and keeping UAE's pitch conditions in mind, I think seamers like Umesh Yadav and Hardik Pandya would work in India's favour," Johnson told PTI.
"Pandya is currently doing well in England, where he is utilising the conditions well. Pandya's ability to extract pace from pitches and smartly bowling at length when required will help knock out the tricky Pakistani batting line-up. I am actually excited to see the way Umesh Yadav will bowl in the Asia Cup," said Johnson.
"Yadav's biggest asset lies in the ability to choke an opposition at crunch times along with knocking opponents out with variations/reverse swing during his spells. Yadav, along with Pandya and (Jasprit) Bumrah, can perfectly set up the situation for the spinners who would be carrying the mantle of negotiating matches through the middle overs," explained Johnson.
Hardik picked up his first five-wicket haul in Tests in the third Test against England that helped his side to win the contest and keep the five-game series alive.