Team Indian vice-captain Rohit Sharma has hinted that all-rounder Hardik Pandya might bowl when their side begins its T20 World Cup campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan on October 24 at the Dubai International Cricket stadium in Dubai.
Sharma, who led the India in their second warm-up game against Australia, had said his side needs the services of a sixth bowler.
Notably, several questions have been raised over Hardik, who has refrained from bowling since a long time and the all-rounder also didn’t bolwed a single over in the recently concluded season of Indian Premier League (IPL).
“Hardik is coming along pretty well, but it’ll be a while before he will start to bowl. He hasn’t started bowling, but he should be ready by the start of the tournament,” Rohit had said at the toss for the warm-up match against Australia couple of days back.
“We have quality in the main bowlers, but you need an option for a sixth bowler,” he added.
“We want to make sure that we get the sixth bowling option, some options in the batting order as well, we’ll try all those things today,” he had said.
In the recent times, Hardik’s fitness has been a cause of concern for the Men in Blue. It was due to his fitness which had forced the selectors to make a change in their 15-memeber squad for the T20 World Cup as Shardul Thakur, who was in the reserves, was bought in place of spinner Axar Patel because the Mumbai cricketer was the only seamer in the squad who can also be handy with the willow.
Recently, former India opener Gautam Gambhir had said that Hardik, not bowling could a big concern for the Kohli-led side.
“If I have to go with just five bowlers, then I will pick Ishan Kishan ahead of Hardik Pandya on current form. If you are going with five proper bowlers and six batsmen, Hardik’s form is probably a massive concern. Forget about the bowling, with the bat as well,” Gambhir had said on Star Sports show Gameplan.
“For me, Hardik Pandya gets into India’s playing XI only if he does proper bowling in both warmup games, not only in the nets. There is a huge difference between bowling in the nets and against quality batsmen like Babar Azam and that too in the World Cup,” he had added.
After beating England in their first warm-up fixture by seven wickets, the Men in Blue once again produced an all-round display as they had thrashed Australia by eight wickets in their second practise game.
India will now play Pakistan in the blockbuster clash of the showpiece event on October 24 in Dubai.
The Men In Blue, placed in the second group, will next face New Zealand on October 31 at the same venue before facing Afghanistan on November 3 in Abu Dhabi.
India will then take on the two of the four qualifiers on November 5 and 8 in Dubai.
The two semifinals will be held on November 10 and November 11 with the final to be played on November 14.