All-rounder Hardik Pandya's popularity rose last year following his exploits in the limited-overs format at home. His ODI and T20I form won him a Test cap too, in Sri Lanka where he justified the selection. Now, in South Africa, he is struggling.
Also read: CSK player racially abused in SA
Barring the 93 in the opening Test against the Porteas in Cape Town, Pandya has done very little to retain his place in the Playing XI. With India leading 3-1 and gearing up for the fifth ODI tomorrow (February 13) in Port Elizabeth, the 24-year-old is under pressure.
Also read: SA-India series schedule
Praised by many former cricketers as a potential successor to legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev, Pandya has so far failed to maintain consistency, at least in the "Rainbow Nation".
In the ongoing ODI series, he has managed just 26 runs (3 not out, 14 and 9) in three innings and taken only one wicket (1/37) in four matches.
The Baroda cricketer, despite his failings on the field, is enjoying his time off it. He was seen shaking a leg as the Indian team was accorded a traditional welcome in Port Elizabeth. Also, Pandya is active on social media, posting pictures on his Twitter page.
Also read: 'Pandya can be like Adam Gilchrist'
Fans, who can be harsh at times, have not spared Pandya, on Twitter. They have attacked and want him to concentrate on cricket rather than spending time on Twitter. Some of the netizens have termed him as "overrated".
Captain Virat Kohli has been in prolific form with the bat and his domination of South African bowlers have helped the team to mask the failures of others.
With the side doing well, Pandya's form is not the talking point. Also, Rohit Sharma, who has been out of sorts in the ODI rubber, figures in Kohli's plans.
It is too early for experts to compare Pandya with Kapil. The search for Kapil's successor has resulted in many passing through the revolving door. India are yet to find one who can measure up to even half of Kapil's potential.
Jacques Kallis was batting all-rounder.— Sunil- The Cricketer (@1sInto2s) February 4, 2018
Kapil Dev was bowling all-rounder.
Hardik Pandya is fielding all-rounder.#INDvSA
Hardik Pandya is a little over-rated? Or is he Shahid Afridi in the making?— Subramoney.com (@pvsubramanyam) February 7, 2018
Pandya's latest struggles in South Africa, will raise question marks over his ability to replicate home success in overseas conditions. In spite of his low scores, he might get Kohli's backing with lack of fast bowling all-rounders in the squad.
Axar Patel, Mohammed Shami, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik and Shardul Thakur are the reserve players who are set to get a game in the ODI rubber so far. India were forced to make one change in fourth ODI as Kedar Jadhav was injured and Shreyas Iyer took his place.
With Kohli and the wrist-spin combination of Yuzvendra Chahal-Kuldeep Yadav hogging the limelight, Pandya and others' failures are ignored. But after South Africa's win in Johannesburg, India will be wary of the hosts in the fifth game. They might look to change personnel.
Apart from that just 1 Test Innings of Hardik Pandya , He has just wasted a spot in the #TeamIndia this entire South Africa Tour. He was picked as a All-Rounder but has never provided that kind of support in ether department. #IND #SAvIND #INDvSA #SAvsIND #INDvsSA— Aditya Saha (@AdityaKrSaha) February 10, 2018
Hardik Pandya must tell his grandchildren at the age of 70 that he once mistakenly compared with Kapil Dev.#INDvSA— Sunil- The Cricketer (@1sInto2s) February 7, 2018