ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Waugh praises 'the equivalent of Klusener'
The sight of a ballistic lower-order batsman has the former Aussie skipper handing out a coveted comparison
11 June 2019, 11:22 AM AEST
Having watched India's hard-hitting allrounder Hardik Pandya dismantle Australia on Saturday, former Australia captain Steve Waugh has compared him to batting wrecking ball Lance Klusener.
Pandya, after he was dropped by Australia gloveman Alex Carey from the first ball he faced, crashed 48 from 27 balls at The Oval to help his side post an insurmountable 5-352 in India's 36-run win.
The damaging stroke play by Pandya, who hit four fours and three sixes, reminded Waugh of Klusener's fireworks in the 1999 World Cup.
Klusener was the player of the tournament 20 years ago in England for his destructive lower-order hitting that netted 281 runs at a strike rate of 122.17, a figure that was considered stratospheric in the pre-T20 days of 1999.
The left-hander's exploits powered South Africa to within one run of making the final at Lord's, but a frantic run out on the semi-final at Edgbaston resulted in Waugh's Australia securing a famous tie. Australia would then outclass Pakistan in the final to win their second World Cup title.
While India boast Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni and world No.1 Virat Kohli in their top order, Waugh says Pandya – who normally bats at No.7 but was promoted to No.4 against Australia - could be the player who will give rival captain headaches.
"When they (India) get off to solid opening partnership, as they did against Australia, they then have the luxury of seeing Virat Kohli orchestrate the remainder of the innings," Waugh wrote for the ICC.
"But it’s the innings of Hardik Pandya that will send shivers down opposition spines.
"This guy might just be the equivalent of Lance Klusener in the 1999 World Cup.
"He has the ability to begin his innings like most finish, with clean hitting that no opposing captain can protect."
Following Pandya's onslaught, Australia were tasked with chasing a World Cup record score to beat India but their pursuit fell apart after a loss of untimely wickets as the final 10 overs approached.
The defending champions were 3-235 after 39 overs, with Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell at the crease.
But in the space of seven balls across the next overs, Australia lost Smith, Maxwell and allrounder Marcus Stoinis to put the win beyond reach.
Despite the loss, Waugh says Australia won't be fazed and expects them to feature in the semi-finals as one of half a dozen sides who are a shot at winning the tournament.
"India will walk away from this match full of confidence as most of their key players did exactly what needed to be done under extreme pressure and their game plan was executed perfectly," Waugh wrote.
"Australia won’t be too disappointed as they have time to dissect this loss, fine tune their process, tinker with batting orders and bowling options and manoeuvre things around before the semi-finals come around.
"This World Cup is wide open right now with up to six teams believing they have a chance to lift the Cup at Lord’s."
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
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For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE