T20 World Cup 2021: BCCI gets 5 more days to take call on Hardik Pandya; talks on to include a pacer in squad – Report

The Board of Control for Cricket in Indi (BCCI) on Sunday (October 10) heaved a sigh of relief as it got five more days to change the team picked for the T20 World Cup 2021, slated to be held in UAE and Oman from October 17 to November 14.

According to a TOI report, the deadline for submitting the final squad to the International Cricket Council (ICC) is October 15.

With this development, the Chetan Sharma-led selection panel got the much needed time to take a call on all-rounder Hardik Pandya’s availability for the showpiece tournament.

It is important for India that Hardik starts bowling heading into the T20 World Cup, else it will be difficult for him to get a place in the playing XI as a specialist batter. Notably, he didn’t bowl a single over in the second phase of IPL 2021 for Mumbai Indians (MI).

“The selectors will wait and watch on how Hardik shapes up in the next few days. The selectors went with just three genuine pacers because it was believed Hardik would be fit enough to bowl his quota of overs. Since he hasn’t bowled at all in the IPL, there’s no form to go by,” a top BCCI official told TOI on Sunday.

The cut-off date to submit the final squad was October 10 but it was reportedly for the participating nations who are playing the qualifiers.

It is pertinent to mention here that the first round of the tournament will see the qualifying event taking place from October 17 to 23, while the Super-12 stage will get underway on October 24.

“Teams can change their teams seven days prior to the start of their support period. India’s support period starts with the Super 12 which begin on Oct 23. So, they have time to change the team till Oct 15 midnight,” an ICC source told TOI.

As per the report, the selectors want to be absolutely certain that Pandya will be fit enough to bowl in all the games. Just a couple days ago, MI skipper Rohit Sharma had said that he expects the all-rounder to start bowling from “next week”.

Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar already feature in the last of standby players and if needed, one of them could be drafted to the main squad.

“It’s not decided if Hardik will be dropped altogether if he doesn’t get bowling ready. But he is running out of time as an allrounder. If any one of Thakur and Deepak gets in, then there’s a chance of the selectors asking Harshal Patel to stay back in UAE,” the BCCI source told TOI.

Mystery spinner Varun Chakaravarthy’s fitness is another cause of concern for the Indian team leading up to the T20 World Cup.

“Chakravarthy is seen as an X-factor and the team management is very keen to have him in the team. But the state of his knees will also be assessed. It needs to be seen if the team’s medical staff is confident of managing him through the tournament,” the source added.