Gautam Gambhir believes Hardik Pandya can only be a part of Team India’s playing XI at the forthcoming 2021 T20 World Cup if the all-rounder is at the top of his game as a bowler.
Hardik Pandya was initially chosen as a batting all-rounder in India’s main 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup. However, with uncertainties about his ability to roll his arm over, the Indian selectors even had to bring in pacer all-rounder Shardul Thakur from the reserve list at the expense of spinner Axar Patel to beef up the seam-bowling department.
Gautam Gambhir: Hardik Pandya Gets Into India’s Playing XI If He Bowls In Warm-Up Games
Gautam Gambhir has highlighted that Hardik Pandya needs to prove his bowling fitness in the two warmup encounters against England and Australia to make Team India’s starting XI. He made the following observations while previewing the upcoming T20 World Cup during a discussion on the Star Sports show – Game Plan.
The former Indian opener said: “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.”
The former India opener added that Hardik Pandya should not just be rolling his arm over but needs to be bowling at his best.
Gautam Gambhir said: “He has to bowl in the practice matches and the nets, and he has to bowl 100 percent. If you are thinking that you will come and bowl just at 115-120 kph, I will not take that risk.”
Gautam Gambhir Would Opt To Play Ishan Kishan Ahead Of Hardik Pandya On Current Form
Gautam Gambhir added that he would opt to play Ishan Kishan ahead of Hardik Pandya if the latter is playing only as a specialist batsman. Ishan Kishan was the top run-getter for Mumbai Indians in the 2020 season, scoring 516 runs at an average of 57.33, and later went on to make his International T20 debut, where he scored a fearless fifty.
He amassed 241 runs in 10 IPL 2021 games averaging 26.77. After a slow start, he scored two fifties in the last 2 games. He scored an unbeaten 50 against Rajasthan and followed it up with 84 against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Gautam Gambhir reasoned: “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.”
Hardik Pandya had a dismal IPL 2021 with the bat for the Mumbai Indians. The big-hitter scored just 127 runs in the tournament at an underwhelming average of 14.11, along with a below-par strike rate of 113.39.
In T20Is, Hardik Pandya bowled 2 overs against Sri Lanka and picked up a wicket in July 2021. He also bowled 17 overs against England in 5 games in March 2021 and picked up 3 wickets.