India's greatest all-rounder Kapil Dev last played for this nation in 1994. The search for the next seaming all-rounder has went on ever since then, for 23 years. Many came, very few impressed and almost no one sustained. Ajit Agarkar, Irfan Pathan, Stuart Binny, the list is very long.

The latest addition to the list is 23-year-old Hardik Pandya. After impressing with his performance with bat and ball in IPL and in the shorter format (ODIs and T20s) at the international stage, the Gujarat cricketer was drafted in India's Test squad.

Source: b'ICC'

India skipper Virat Kohli has earlier stated that he hopes Pandya will become as good a player as England's all-rounder Ben Stokes. And with the same hope, he handed over Pandya his debut Test cap in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle.

The impressive start

Pandya has proven his worth in the limited overs format. He's known for his power-hitting, 140 kph seam bowling and sharp fielding. And he didn't take long to impress in the longer format. The Baroda cricketer cracked a fifty on debut - 50 off 49 deliveries - to help India register 600 in the first innings. 

While the innings included three brutal sixes, Pandya also displayed poise through crucial partnerships he stitched with Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav lower down the order to help India post a mammoth total. Visitors won the match by 304 runs.

Source: b'ICC'

He also chipped in with his bowling. In the second Test at Colombo,  Pandya dismissed centurion Kusal Mendis in the second innings to initiate the collapse of Sri Lanka's fightback.

Mendis had put up a partnership of 191 with Dimuth Karunaratne after India had enforced follow-on. Kohli-led side won the match by an inning and 53 runs - India's second series victory in Sri Lanka in two years.

The big bang

Pandya is only playing his third Test, but the cricketer has shown that on his day he can take away the match from the opposition in a matter of few sessions. Pandya's 86-ball hundred helped India reach 487 in the innings from 329/6. 

On Sunday, he smashed 107 runs in the morning session of Day 2, which is the most by an Indian batsman before lunch on any day of a Test. The record was previously held by Virender Sehwag, who scored 99 runs against West Indies in Gros Islet in 2006.

The explosive innings was also laced with maturity, Pandya forged a 62-run partnership with Kuldeep Yadav and 66-run partnership with Umesh for the last wicket to put India on top.

The innings reminded of Australia's former wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist. The runs from the Aussie's bat were not as important as the time he took to make them. The blitzkriegs not only helped Australia to break their opposition's morale, it also gave their bowlers some extra time to have a go at the opposition batsmen. 

The balance factor

India have a long overseas trip coming up and a seaming all-rounder will be an invaluable asset in pacy conditions. A player like Pandya adds to India's strategic options and will help in bringing in the much required balance to the team in the alien conditions of England and South Africa.

With an all-rounder, Kohli can opt to select an extra batsman or bowler. Seaming all-rounder also gives India the option to go in with a three-man paced attack on pace friendly pitches without dropping a spinner or a batsman. 

Source: b'ICC'

Pandya's batting ability along with that of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja deepens India batting strength, without weakening the bowling attack. Something which will be of great use on overseas trip. 

Pandya's selection in the first Test did raise few eyebrows owing to his less than ordinary record in first-class cricket. But Pandya - who is also an exceptional fielder - has shown it on the pitch that he has the temperament and talent to be the answer to India’s long search for an all-rounder.

Feature image: ICC