Former Indian skipper Gautam Gambhir feels that all-rounder Hardik Pandya can only feature in the Team India’s playing XI for ICC T20 World Cup if he bowls properly in warm-up games against England and Australia.
Hardik Pandya was mainly selected in the Indian squad for the T20 World Cup due to his all-round abilities. However, him not bowling a single over in the second phase of the IPL 2021 and missing two games due to injury concerns has been one of the major setbacks for the Virat Kohli-led side ahead of the marquee tournament.
With him not being fully fit for bowling, has forced BCCI to add Shardul Thakur and omit Akshar Patel from the squad as the former along with sensational bowling can contribute with the bat as well and can become like to like replacement for the all-rounder.
Gautam Gambhir feels that Hardik Pandya should be considered for playing XI in the marquee tournament only if he does proper bowling in warm-up games.
“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,” Gautam Gambhir said on Star Sports.
The two-time World Cup winner feels that junior Pandya needs to give his 100% while bowling in the warm-up games and practice sessions and can’t just roll his arm over for the sake of bowling.
“He has to bowl in the practice matches and the nets, and he has to bowl 100 per cent. If you are thinking that you will come and bowl just at 115-120 kph, I will not take that risk,” he said.
Gambhir concluded by saying that if the team is going with only five bowlers he would play Ishan Kishan ahead of Hardik Pandya as a specialist batsman.
“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,” he concluded.
Notably, Hardik Pandya hasn’t been in great form with the bat lately. He had a forgettable series with the bat when India toured Sri Lanka and then in IPL 2021, he scored only 127 runs at an average of 14.11.