Despite his recent heroics for India in recent times, the recent omission of Shardul Thakur from the T20 World Cup came as a surprise to many. He has performed well with bat and ball and has filled the void of Hardik Pandya, who has been on the sidelines due to his injury. Although Shardul may not be among 15 players selected for the squad it has raised the question that is Shardul Thakur a better all-rounder than Hardik Pandya and if Shardul can provide, what India was looking for Hardik Pandya?

India’s search for a seaming all-rounder

A few years ago, This India’s search for fast bowling all-rounder seems to have ended on Hardik Pandya, but his recent injury scare and out-of-form performances had raised the doubts in the mind of the selectors. Now, in search of a like-to-like replacement of Hardik Pandya, one name that stood out was Mumbai’s own Shardul Thakur or famously among Indian fans as Lord Shardul.

With his scorching bat-and-ball performance in the recently finished test series, Shardul has become a sensation. His performances against Australia and England may have cemented his spot in India’s Test squad. However, when it comes to the shorter format of the game, a more in-depth examination is required to determine who is the best, so let’s find out.

Now, since Shardul is comparatively new to International cricket compared to Hardik Pandya, so we’ll first compare both of their First Class Cricket.

Shardul vs Hardik in First Class Cricket

Shardul is a product of a strong Indian domestic cricket circuit. Shardul has much more experience in FC Cricket than Hardik Pandya. Former plays for Mumbai, which is one of the strongest teams in Indian domestic cricket.

Shardul has played 90 First-Class matches compared to Pandya’s 46. He has scored 1444 runs at an average of 17.39. One of the reasons for his low average is Mumbai’s strong batting line up which eventually means fewer opportunities for Shardul. Pandya on the other hand 1351 runs at an average of 30.

Can Shardul Thakur be what India was looking for in Hardik Pandya - Data Analysis
Batting comparison in FC Cricket – Cricket analysis stats

Now, if we talk about Bowling, Shardul has 221 wickets to his name at a decent average of 28.02. He also had 12 fifers to his name in FC cricket. Hardik Pandya on the other has picked 48 wickets in 28 games that he had played. Shardul’s experience at domestic cricket has helped him gain valuable lessons which were on display in the recently concluded England series. He has performed well against England and Australia and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares in tough Indian conditions.

Can Shardul Thakur be what India was looking for in Hardik Pandya - Data Analysis
Bowling comparison in FC Cricket – Cricket data analysis

Shardul vs Hardik at IPL

Given Shardul’s recent batting prowess,  it may come as a surprise to many that he was mostly deployed as a bowler rather than an all-rounder in the 52 IPL matches he has played. Hardik Pandya, regarded as one of the top IPL products, has excelled with both bat and ball. Hardik’s expertise in high-pressure situations during IPL matches, as well as his ability to bowl a variety of pitches on UAE’s slow surfaces, may have swayed the decision in his favour.

Can Shardul Thakur be what India was looking for in Hardik Pandya - Data Analysis
Hardik vs Shardul in IPL – Cricket analysis stats

Pandya vs Thakur in Test Cricket

Even though Shardul is a relatively new addition to the test squad, his performance thus far has shown promising signs. He plays counter cricket and therefore has a higher strike rate and average compared to Pandya. In four matches, he has 14 wickets at an excellent average of 22.71, compared to 17 wickets in 11 matches for Pandya. Shardul has made an impression with the bat rather than the ball, scoring three-half-century in six innings.Hardik vs Shardul in IPL - Cricket analysis stats

Hardik vs Shardul test Bowling – Cricket data analysis

Conclusion

In contrast to the two players, it is evident that Shardul Thakur is a better player in Test cricket presently playing in the Test team. He’s a superb red-ball bowler with some nice swing and also plays a key role batting deep down the order, as we saw in the Test series against Australia earlier this year and now against England.

As previously stated, Hardik is a better T20 player with more experience than Shardul, which may be one of the reasons for his selection over Shardul in the T20 World Cup.

However, Shardul Thakur has the advantage in terms of first-class cricket experience, having played for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy tournament, whereas Hardik Pandya has less first-class experience than Shardul. When it comes to specific qualities of bowling and batting abilities, Shardul Thakur is a bowling all-rounder, whereas Hardik Pandya is a batting all-rounder. However, one thing that works in favour of Shardul is that the Indian batting lineup is already very formidable, so: do we need a batting all-rounder?