MUMBAI: Hardik Pandya has his ''thinking cap on'' this season, according to the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, who feels the Gujarat Titans skipper is batting with discipline and making good use of field restrictions, which has raised his game.
The star Baroda all-rounder has led the Gujarat Titans from the front, rescuing the team on several occasions with his responsible knocks.
The all-rounder has contributed with the ball as well and is an important cog in the wheel for the Titans.
Pandya had struggled to manage his bowling workload post his back surgery in 2019. His last appearance for India was against Namibia in the T20 World Cup in Dubai on November 8 last year. ''He didn't play a lot of cricket before the IPL because he was trying to get fully fit with all the problems he had due to the injury,'' Gavaskar told 'Star Sports'.
''(Now) Look at the discipline he's showing in his batting. He's batting well in the powerplay and making full use of the field restrictions, he's doing exceedingly well in the field. ''So basically, that thinking cap is on; and once that happens your game just goes up,'' added Gavaskar, a former India captain.'' Former India batter Aakash Chopra said Pandya has learnt the right lessons from his ''mentor'' Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
''I think Hardik obviously treats him (MS Dhoni) as his mentor, he's very close to MS. The number at which he bats and the role that he plays, nobody has played it better than Dhoni in the history of white-ball cricket,'' Chopra said.
''He's learnt the right lessons from MS. When we are in the company of greatness, we try and take little pieces and it shapes our lives. And that's what we are seeing with Hardik,'' added Chopra.
Former India pacer Irfan Pathan too lauded Pandya for his responsible knocks.
''This is a new Hardik Pandya. This is a better version of him. It was nice to see the situations in which he has played this season. The good thing about Hardik is that he is batting responsibly at No. 4,'' said Pathan.
''Whether it is team India or Gujarat Titans, Hardik is the most suited batsman at number four. This is because he can take the responsibility,'' signed off Pathan.