The Mumbai Indians staff may not be pushing Hardik Pandya hard to bowl in the Indian Premier League (IPL) as MI coach Mahela Jayawardene himself says, but the Indian team management and the selection committee may not be as lenient when it comes to his position in India’s T20 World Cup squad.
“We’re trying to do what’s best for Hardik, going forward. Whether he can bowl or not in the IPL is something we will have to look at. At the moment, if we push too hard (to bowl), he might be an issue where he might even struggle and might not be an asset as a batsman,” the Mumbai Indians coach, said on Friday (October 1).
The coaches and the selectors of the Indian team, however, think differently. It’s very understandable that the coaching staff feels the balance of the side gets disturbed with a one-dimensional Pandya. The thinking, learnt to be shared by the selectors as well, is that Pandya cannot make the XI just for his batting and he was taken into the squad for his proven all-round abilities.
Pandya was left out of the first two games of Mumbai Indians since the IPL resumed on September 19. He has not bowled in a competitive game for quite some time, the last occasion when he bowled in a Twenty20 International was against Sri Lanka in July.
Should Shardul replace Pandya?
With a fit and in-form Shardul Thakur among the standbys and Jayawardene admitting that there are issues with Pandya’s bowling, questions are certain to be raised with Pandya at some stage. Some former selectors have already started making comments on this topic.
MSK Prasad sure sees merit in the selection of Pandya but with emphasis on his ‘all-round’ skills. “He has regained his batting form which was good to see the other night (MI vs PBKS). I hope to see him bowl his quota of four overs in the last leg of the IPL and justify his selection in the World Cup squad,” the former chief selector said in a discussion. Comments were also made by former selector Saba Karim recently.
The selection committee can make changes in the squad before October 10; they can exercise that option later as well. If a decision is not taken by October 10, the bowling aspect will be raised with the player when the team arrives together in Dubai after the IPL final on October 15.
Coaches to travel to Dubai on October 8
Meanwhile, it has come to light that the Indian coaches and other support staff members will leave for Dubai on October 8. As part of the International Cricket Council (ICC) bio-secure protocols for the World Cup, they will be required to undergo a six-day quarantine on arrival. The ICC has relaxed the quarantine clause for those coming in from another bio-bubble which means those currently part of the bubbles, mostly players, will not be required to isolate.