Hardik will make the difference against Pakistan, believes Aaqib Javed
India will begin their Asia Cup 2022 campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan on 28 August and the upcoming mouth-watering clash has all the experts already making predictions about where the match can be won or lost. India last played against Pakistan in the 2021 T20 World Cup, suffering a 10-wicket defeat. It was their first defeat to Pakistan in a World Cup match.
Talking about the upcoming match, Pakistan's 1992 World Cup-winning pacer Aaqib Javed has said that Hardik Pandya could be the difference maker as the Babar Azam-led side doesn't have an all-rounder like him.
"The difference between the two teams lies in their batting," Javed told Paktv.tv. "India's batting is still more experienced. If a batter like Rohit Sharma clicks, he can single-handedly win the match for India. Similarly with Fakhar Zaman. If he plays with control, he can win the match for Pakistan. But the middle-order line-up of India and Pakistan, that's the difference. Also their all-rounder, that makes a difference. Because Pakistan does not have a Hardik Pandya like all-rounder."
Hardik was also part of the World Cup match last year and scored 11 off eight balls as India scored 151/7 batting first. The 28-year-old all-rounder, who has a history of back issues, did not bowl in the match. Hardik took a break after the World Cup and only returned to action in IPL 2022, where he led debutants Gujarat Titans to the title win.
He subsequently made a return to the Indian side and has cemented his place into the XI, bringing much-needed balance to the team. In 2022, he has scored 281 runs in 13 T20Is at a strike rate of almost 140. He has also been bowling regularly, taking eight wickets in 0222 at an economy of 8.53.