Ben Stokes recently topped the charts of all-rounders in Tests after aggregating 254 runs and taking 3 wickets in the Old Trafford Test against West Indies. He is also the joint-third in top Test batsman with Marnus Labuschagne and trails only Steve Smith and Virat Kohli.
The meteoric rise of Stokes since the 2019 World Cup final where he single-handedly led England to their maiden ICC World Cup triumph has been a great redemption story after he grabbed headlines for a brawl outside a Bristol bar a year ago.
Similarly, Hardik Pandya has been the top all-rounder for India across formats. And India missed him terribly in the 3-0 ODI series loss and 2-0 Test series loss handed out by New Zealand early this year.
But is Pandya really the Stokes for India?
Who’s the better Test all-rounder between Stokes and Pandya?
The England all-rounder has played as many as 65 Tests, scoring 4399 runs @ 38.58 with 10 tons and 22 fifties with the best score of 258. The left-handed batsman also boasts of a healthy strike rate of 58.70. Stokes is definitely more consistent now as experience has made him put a heavy price tag on his wicket.
Pandya is just 11 Tests old and has scored 532 runs @31.29 with 1 ton and 4 fifties with a highest score of 108. For a beginner, it’s a fair record. He also boasts of a brilliant strike rate of 73.88.
Stokes’ away record is similar to his form at home, meaning he can score runs in tough overseas conditions as well. He averages 39.27 away, while his home record is 40.66. He has scored 6 tons at home, while 4 tons away. He has played 30 Tests at home, and 32 Tests away. It implies Stokes has been fairly consistent at both home and away.
Pandya has played all except 1 match overseas. And he averages 28.81 away, a bit down compared to his career average of 31.29. Besides, he has struggled in conditions away from the sub-continent. He has managed just 2 fifties in 14 innings in England and South Africa – not such a great record.
4th innings average
Stokes boasts of an impressive batting average of 30.38 in fourth innings, with 2 tons. A decent batting average in fourth innings proves a batsman’s skills, temperament and mental strength. Who can forget Stokes’ 135* at Leeds to steer England to a memorable victory over Australia last year?
Pandya, in comparison, has a dismal average of 9.50 in the fourth innings. But he has played just 4 innings, and hence, he can’t be judged solely on this.
Stokes has 156 wickets to his credit at an average of 31.73 with 4 five-wicket hauls in 65 Tests. In comparison, Pandya has 17 wickets at an average of 31.05 with 1 five-wicket haul in 11 Tests. In terms of bowling average, both the bowlers match up, but Pandya has played fewer Tests and could improve further on his bowling. Stokes has been an underachiever in this respect.
Both are acrobatic fielders and can take catches out of nowhere. They can also win matches out of their sheer brilliance on the field.
Stokes deserves the World No 1 all-rounder’s tag, but he has more experience to his credit to win this battle against Hardik Pandya. The Indian all-rounder has shown promise but has a long way to go to challenge Stokes for the title.
Cover Credits: EssentiallySports