'Great asset' Pandya can be India's Stokes, says Kohli


Virat Kohli believes Hardik Pandya is capable of becoming India's equivalent to Ben Stokes, after the all-rounder made his Test debut in a comfortable victory over Sri Lanka in Galle.

Pandya struck a brisk, first-innings 50 as India thrashed Sri Lanka by 304 runs to win the first of three Tests.

While the 23-year-old's role with the ball was relatively limited, as illustrated by match figures of 1-34 from 10 overs, Kohli is confident Pandya can make a significant impact in Tests and offer the balance Stokes provides to England.

India's skipper was quoted by ESPNCricinfo as saying: "First innings, he [Pandya] didn't get the opportunity to bowl much, but I think in the second innings he bowled really nicely on a wicket that wasn't offering much and he kept it in the right areas.

"He used the bouncer well. He bowls around 135 [kilometres per hour], when he bends his back he can go higher. So he is a great asset and I have mentioned this before as well.

"He is a really good batsman ... and his fielding is also tremendous. I have a lot of faith in him as far as any format is concerned.

"When you play away from home, one guy [all-rounder] gives you a lot of balance, and I think Hardik can be that guy going ahead, especially playing so much cricket away from home.

"If he grows in confidence - you see someone like Ben Stokes, what he does for England, brings in great balance as an all-rounder. I see no reason why Hardik Pandya can't become that for India."