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After an underwhelming performance against Pakistan, the World Cup 2021 favorites India will be locking horns with the Kiwis, New Zealand on Sunday.

India lost the match due to various reasons. Reasons why India lost, was not just strategic but also involved other factors. However, today, we will talk about one of the prevailing concerns in the Indian dressing lineup I.e. Hardik Pandya's fitness and his future in the Indian squad.

With that, we will also compare him to Shardul Thakur who had a phenomenal 2021 and his improvements make him the most likely option to replace the Mumbai Indians all-rounder. Let's compare their numbers in T20Is

Hardik Pandya in T20Is 

Matches RunsWicketsAverageStrike Rate Highest Score/ Best Figures
504954219.04145.1642/4-38

Shardul Thakur in T20Is

Matches RunsWicketsAverageStrike Rate Highest Score/ Best Figures
21693134.5197.1422/4-27

Statistically, it is clear that Hardik has an upper hand but if the recent form was to be considered, Shardul Thakur comes on top. At this moment, Shardul Thakur is a better bowler than Hardik, arguably a better batsman as well, and Hardik's lack of field time while fielding shows that Thakur is better in that department too.

We know that Hardik, when fully fit is potentially better than in at least two departments but he has been off the charts for a few years now.

It was said that the player would at least be fit enough to bat in the T20 World Cup and that's why he was picked but yet again, Hardik Pandya sustained an injury in his 11-run knock against Pakistan and wasn't available to field too.

Guess who was on the field to replace him? Shardul Thakur. We don't know what's next for Pandya but we do know that 2021 has been a year where India witnessed a different Shardul Thakur.

An economical wicket-taking bowler, who can play an explosive inning towards the death overs too.

Hardik Pandya vs Shardul Thakur in IPL

Hardik Pandya 

Matches RunsWicketsAverageStrike Rate Highest Score/ Best Figures
921476 4227.33153.9191/3-20

Shardul Thakur 

Matches RunsWicketsAverageStrike Rate Highest Score/ Best Figures
6153676.62112.7715/3-19

Once again, if it was for stats, Hardik Pandya would've been the clear winner but this season Shardul Thakur not only won the IPL 2021 with Chennai Super Kings but he was also their highest wicket-taker.

To do it amongst bowlers like Deepak Chahar, Ravindra Jadeja, Josh Hazlewood, and Lungi Ngidi, was a huge milestone. Not just that, on numerous occasions, we saw Chennai Super Kings under trouble and the next moment MS Dhoni brought Shardul Thakur in the attack. 

To his credit, almost on every occasion, Thakur turned out to break the partnership of her a cruising well-set batsman out. All this coming after a fantastic performance in the Tests in Australia and England too.

Long-term Test option

While Hardik Pandya has 11 Test caps, Shardul Thakur is not very far with 4. Pandya's batting record isn't the best while Shardul has already played some cherishable knocks that were quite vital for India at that stage. 

Shardul can play for extended durations, he can play strokes, leave balls and his sense of commuting to deliveries has been very appreciated compared to Pandya who mostly looks to slog.

Not just that, Hardik Pandya's place in the team also forces India to pick their bowlers in a certain combination. After their loss against Pakistan, it is clear that Hardik's place in the squad will be given to Thakur due to the farmer's fitness concerns.

Another player who did not have his best game was Bhuvneshwar Kumar but the reason we mention him here is that if Hardik Pandya is replaced by Shardul Thakur, India get a batsman and an effective bowler, and then even Ravichandran Ashwin's experience can also be incorporated in place of Bhuvneshwar, thus giving India two batsman and 2 impact bowlers.

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