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Kohli backs all-rounder Pandya to become India’s Stokes

Galle, Sri Lanka: All-rounder Hardik Pandya has the potential to become India’s Ben Stokes and improve the balance of the side, captain Virat Kohli said after the 23-year-old’s encouraging Test debut in the win against Sri Lanka.

England’s Stokes is widely regarded the best fast-bowling all-rounder in the world with his match-winning prowess with both bat and ball.

“When you play away from home, one guy (all-rounder) gives you a lot of balance, and I think Hardik can be that guy going ahead, specially playing so much cricket away from home,” said Kohli.

“If he grows in confidence, you see someone like Ben Stokes, what he does for England. He brings in great balance as an all-rounder. I see no reason why Hardik Pandya can’t become that for India.”

In his first innings, Pandya scored 50 off 49 deliveries, his knock studded with five fours and three sixes.

The medium paceman took one wicket in Sri Lanka’s first innings but looked more dangerous during a hostile spell in the second when he peppered the hosts’ batsmen with short deliveries.

“First innings, he didn’t get the opportunity to bowl much but I think in the second innings, he bowled really nicely on a wicket that wasn’t offering much and he kept it in the right areas,” said Kohli.

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