Graeme Smith praises Karthik, terms Pandya 'x-factor': Key stats
Like everyone, former South African skipper Graeme Smith is impressed with the recent run of Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya and wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik. The 41-year-old lavished praise on the duo while speaking to cricket.com a day after the IND-SA T20I series concluded. Both Pandya and Karthik were on fire in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022. They also fared well in the T20I series.
'Hardik and DK are integral to the squad', says Smith
"Hardik and DK are integral to that squad. DK is experienced with that finishing role that he has played Hardik has grown leaps and bounds and is in control of his game. And he is also that all-rounder X Factor that India require to just balance the team with him and Jadeja in the squad which opens up a lot of options," said Smith.
Karthik is in the form of his life
Karthik is enjoying the form of his life. He has averaged a stupendous 52.75 across 20 T20s played this year. He has belted 422 runs at a mouth-dropping rate of 177.31. That includes a stellar campaign with the Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2022. Karthik hoarded 330 runs while averaging a prolific 55.00 for the Royal Challengers. He had a strike rate of 183.33.
Oldest Indian to slam a T20I fifty
Karthik featured in India's first-ever T20 International in December 2006, against South Africa (Johannesburg). Nearly 16 years later, against the same opposition, the Indian wicket-keeper-batter brought up his maiden T20I half-century. The right-handed batter hammered 55 (27) against the Proteas in the fourth T20I on Friday. Karthik, 37, became the oldest Indian to have registered a fifty in the format.
Pandya, Karthik rescued India in 4th T20I
A terrific partnership between Karthik and Pandya fueled India's innings in the fourth T20I against SA. India compiled 169/6, with the duo adding 78 runs together. The Proteas had reduced India to 81/4 at one stage. However, Karthik joined Pandya in punishing the SA bowlers.
Pandya was phenomenal in the T20I series
All-rounder Pandya is back to his vintage self. It all started with IPL 2022, wherein the hard-hitter belted 487 runs at 44.27 (four 50s). He led Gujarat Titans to a title in their maiden campaign. Thus, a lot was expected from Pandya heading into the series. The Gujarat cricketer showed consistency throughout, having registered scores of 31*(12), 9(12), 31*(21), and 46(31).
Hardik Pandya to lead Team India in Ireland T20I series
Hardik Pandya will lead India in the upcoming two-match T20I series in Ireland. The BCCI named him the captain as the current stand-in skipper Rishabh Pant will miss the series. The latter will travel to England to play the Edgbaston Test.
What about T20 World Cup?
Karthik, who made a T20I return after three years, was a huge plus for Team India in the SA series. He compiled 92 runs in four innings, averaging a phenomenal 46.00. The senior batter is in contention to play the T20 World Cup later this year. Meanwhile, Pandya has become fitter since the last edition. He certainly won't feature as a specialist-batter this time.