Hardik Pandya walks into my Greatest XI for sure: Matthew Hayden on IPL’s Greatest All-rounder

Mumbai: In 16 years of its existence, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has seen many top players in action. So, selecting the Greatest All-rounder to grace the IPL in its 16 years is a tough task for anyone.

As the cricketing world eagerly awaits the commencement of the IPL 2024, Star Sports, the broadcaster of World’s best T20 league, embarked on a mission to assemble the ‘All Time Greatest IPL Team’. This elite squad comprised 11 players, 4 impact substitutes, and 1 coach, with input from over 25 cricket experts, 16 lakh fans, and 70 journalists who cast their votes to select their ‘All-Time Greatest IPL Team’.

Though there were big debates between the four jury members and cricket legends- Matthew Hayden, Dale Steyn, Wasim Akram, and Tom Moody, the selection of the all-rounders in the All-Time Greatest IPL Team, generated a lot of heat. The final team will be revealed on Star Sports on February 20 at 7 PM.

These former cricketing stalwarts shared their perspectives on selecting the all-time greatest IPL side, shedding light on the pivotal role played by dynamic all-rounders in shaping the course of IPL history. Four all-rounders — Hardik Pandya of India, Andre Russell of West Indies, Ravindra Jadeja of India and Kieron Pollard — were on the shortlist that came under discussion.

Former Pakistan fast bowler Wasim Akram emphasizes the match-winning prowess of Andre Russell, lauding his ability to single-handedly shift the momentum with his explosive hitting. Akram’s sentiments were echoed by former South Africa pacer Dale Steyn, who also highlighted Ravindra Jadeja’s multifaceted contributions to the game. Steyn’s admiration for Jadeja’s all-round skills is matched by his reverence for Russell’s sheer power-hitting capabilities, cementing their places in his ultimate IPL lineup.

Speaking exclusively to Star Sports on the ‘Star Sports Incredible 16 of IPL’, former Pakistan fast bowler Wasim Akram chose his two all-rounders who would make the all-time greatest IPL side, he said “I’ll pick Russel because he’s just a big hitter, I mean Jadeja is a spin option, gun fielder, he can bat well at number 6 or 7. But to have a guy at number 7 who can hit, and hit big regularly, for me I’ve seen Andre Russell in the past 6, 7, 8 years, he still is an unbelievable player at number 7. He takes the game away from you in a matter of two or three overs, that’s how dangerous he is as a player.”

Former South Africa fast bowler Steyn echoed Akram’s sentiments and chose Jadeja and Russell as his two great all-rounders as well. He said, “I’ve got two all-rounders and I suppose it would be up for debate if we were in a selection panel as to where these two would bat 7 or 8, but I’ve got Russel and Jadeja. Jadeja is a part of the Chennai group that has won many an IPL, he’s a left-hander, dynamic, he can bat anywhere in the order that you want, and with his left arm spin and his fielding, he’s an incredible player.

“And from an all-rounder point of view, Andre Russell makes my team as a power hitter, he’s amazing, clears the ropes and he is a great fielder. But then he also comes in and tips somebody else who is an all-rounder who could have made this team just because Andre, in his prime and when he’s fit, he can bowl at 145 K per hour, so he comes in as my third seamer who bowls in at 145. I’ve got those two guys, where they bat is up for debate,” Steyn said.

However, former Australia cricketer and coach Tom Moody opted for a strategic approach, prioritizing balance in his team composition. With an eye on maximizing resources, Moody selected Hardik Pandya as his primary all-rounder, citing his versatility as a finisher and a pace-bowling option. This decision, Moody believes, allows for the inclusion of additional overseas talents in critical bowling roles, enhancing the overall depth of his squad.

Moody had different opinions on who would make his all-time greatest all-rounder list, he said, “I’ve gone in a different direction because I don’t want to use one of my overseas positions for this, purely for the balance in the side, I still want to have room for an overseas fast bowler and an overseas spinner that make my best XI.

“So I’m going with Hardik Pandya, on the basis that he can play as a finisher, he learnt that craft under the guidance of Pollard in MI for many years, and he then took on his journey to a different direction at Gujarat Titans, and batted further up the order. But for me, he’s a boundary hitter, can bat seven, but also gives you those valuable overs at a good pace.”

Matthew Hayden, aligning with Moody’s strategic vision, underscored the importance of preserving opportunities for Indian talent within the squad. With this in mind, Hayden firmly placed his trust in Hardik Pandya’s explosive batting and dynamic fielding abilities.

Additionally, Hayden also opted for Ravindra Jadeja’s left-arm spin and exceptional fielding prowess, recognising the significance of a well-rounded all-rounder in the ultimate IPL lineup.

Speaking exclusively to Star Sports on the ‘Star Sports Incredible 16 of IPL’, former Australia cricketer Hayden also agreed with Moody and said “I don’t want to waste, if there is such a thing where you’re picking greats, an opportunity for an Indian talent instead of an overseas talent, so Hardik Pandya walks into my greatest eleven side for sure. I’m going to pick Jadeja as well, as I want that left-arm option, and a great fielder, which Hardik is as well. So Hardik at this stage is my choice.”

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