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Will Krunal Pandya get selected in the Indian team?

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Krunal_Pandya_IPL_Mumbai_Indians_India_CricketAfter Hardik Pandya’s heroics caught everyone’s attention in 2015, it was his brother Krunal who attracted interest from the franchises. The Baroda left-arm, spin all-rounder was bought by Mumbai Indians for a whopping 2 crores to fill that space in their side.

Expectations were high, and the elder Pandya brother had the pressure of the hefty sum spent on him. But little did it affect him. Mumbai brought Krunal into the side for the game against the in-form and dangerous Gujarat Lions side. Krunal struck an 11 ball 20 and went on to bowl an economical spell, giving away just 20 runs in his 4 overs while picking up the big wicket of Dinesh Karthik. There was no looking back.

Krunal cemented his place in the Mumbai Indians’ side and went on to score 237 runs in the 12 games he played at a healthy average of 39.50 and a strike rate of over 190. He is also bowled some crucial spells, picking up 6 scalps.

Krunal slowly became a hot property. He managed to keep up his consistent performances while taking up a more central role in the side. He was no more the swashbuckling finisher coming in at 6. He got promoted and was, more often than not, given a chance to control the innings. He went on to score 243 runs in IPL 2017 at an average of about 35 and a strike rate of 135; a performance worthy of a mainstay batting role in any IPL side. He also picked up 10 important wickets. Add to that his excellent fielding, and we have a complete short format all-rounder.

It isn’t just his numbers; it’s his conduct in extreme pressure situations. Consider the IPL 2017 final. Mumbai had lost three early wickets and were tottering. Out came Krunal Pandya to help his captain Rohit Sharma steady the ship. But as things transpired, Rohit Sharma fell, and superstar Kieron Pollard soon followed suit. The pressure of the final and the scoreboard was high enough to bog anyone down, but champions emerge out of such situations. So what did we see? A handsomely struck 47 from Krunal in a game where batsmen found it really hard to get going, guiding Mumbai to their record third title.

Given his incredible performances and the fact that he wasn’t retained by the Mumbai outfit, it was clear the elder Pandya brother would spark a tug of war at the 2018 auctions. It panned out in exactly this manner with Krunal’s price shooting up to 8.8 crores from his base price of 40 lakhs, making him the most expensive uncapped player ever at the auction.

But will the uncapped tag stay with him for long? We have seen a lot of IPL players getting rewarded for their fine performances, not just in the Indian side, but across the globe. Krunal is one name that has managed to miss the bus despite a string of fine performances that have continued this season.

A tally of 181 runs at an average of 26 and a strike rate of about 150 make for very fine numbers who has been playing more as a finisher this season. He has also worked really hard on his bowling and already managed to bag 9 scalps in just the 10 games, and he hasn’t even bowled in every game.

Compare these numbers to Jadeja and Axar, two similar players who have already represented India, and we find that Krunal has been better in all aspects. And while Axar has been decent with the ball, he has failed to do much with the bat. Conversely, Jadeja has been quiet with the ball in hand, but has done some damage with the bat in the 2017 edition. But none of them have emerged as real match winners or impact players for their side. Even Washington Sundar’s performances have been few and far between, which makes Krunal the leading Indian spinning all-rounder.

Krunal could be an ideal guy to bat at 5/6 in the Indian side and give you a couple of overs (or even more) as and when needed. He adds tremendous strength to the side both with the bat and ball and his India debut should be imminent.

 

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