Bengaluru, June 11: After all the roller-coaster ride in his promising career, all-rounder Hardik Pandya finally made his World Cup debut in England on June 5. If glimpses of his top touch in batting were a trailer in the match against South Africa, the full film could be seen against Australia at the Oval on June 9.
Coming in at No. 4, Hardik belted 48 runs in just 27 balls and missed the fastest half-century in the World Cup by little. The knock featured three sixes and four fours and after getting a life in the very first ball that he faced, the 27-year-old fired to take India to a daunting total of 352 for 5 in 50 overs.
Hardik, who has continued his Indian Premier League form into the World Cup, could be a real gain of this edition. This WC already looks to be a battle for supremacy between world's top all-rounders and if former Australia skipper Steve Waugh's words are to go by, he has already predicted Hardik to do a Lance Klusener in the 1999 edition.
Klusener, the ace South African all-rounder who played his first World Cup in 1999, had almost derailed in the semi-final Steve's dream of leading Australia to the title win.
Though the ultimate winners, yet Steve Waugh did not forget the mark Klusener had in the 1999 edition. The left-hand batsman and right-hand bowler was eventually picked as the player of the series in the last World Cup that was played in England before 2019.
Hardik yet to pick an wicket
Hardik though hasn't got any wicket in this World Cup yet (Klusener took 17 scalps in nine matches in the 1999 edition besides slamming two fifties) but in batting, he could well match the South African's heroics accomplished two decades ago.
In those pre-T20 days, Klusener had scored 281 runs at a strike rate of 122.17 and was just one run away from taking his team to the final but for Allan Donald. "...it's the innings of Hardik Pandya that will send shivers down opposition spines. This guy might just be the equivalent of Lance Klusener in the 1999 World Cup. He has the ability to begin his innings like most finish, with clean hitting that no opposing captain can protect," Steve wrote in his column for the ICC's official website.