Hardik Pandya scored his highest ODI score of 92 to set up a thrilling 13 run win for India against Australia in the third game at the Manuka Oval on Wednesday and avoid a clean sweep in the series.
Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar said he has been skeptical about Pandya's selection in the ODI side for the Australia series, but that the Mumbai Indians star has proved him wrong with his performances in India's 1-2 defeat.
Pandya shone in the role hitting an unbeaten 90 in the first match and following it up with a match-winning 92 in the series finale, scoring a total of 210 runs.
He also bowled four overs in the second game and scalped one wicket. His performance saw him win the Player of the Series award.
Manjrekar accepted that Pandya's rollicking performance with the bat has forced him to change his mind on the Hardik batting at number six in the batting order.
He is confident now that the Baroda all-rpunder can contribute to the team even if he is not bowling, adding that he was impressed with the maturity Hardik showed during his knocks in Sydney and Canberra.
'I was sceptical when they picked him on IPL performance. I thought he was a good T20 batsman, but 50 overs is a slightly different game. Can Hardik Pandya be a pure 50 overs batsman and he proved to all of us that he can,' Manjrekar said during his commentary stint on the Sony Six television channel, which is bringing the Australia series to Indian viewers.
'He had that score in the first match, but we have seen him get runs and not be consistent enough but we have seen in this game again today. So yes, India have found a pure No. 6. Who knows he might start going up the order,' Manjrekar added.
'Whether he bowls or not, India have now found a very capable batsman who can be used as an option in No 5 or No 6.'
'It wasn't a T20 innings, India lost early wickets and he got 30 from his first 30 balls. He has got the range and not too many bowlers can keep him quiet. That's really impressive. He has convinced me as I was sceptical about him as a No. 6 pure batsman. I think India have found one.'