After India’s defeat in the first ODI against Australia, the debate has begun on the dearth of a sixth bowling option in the team. Although Virat Kohli has the fast-bowling allrounder, Hardik Pandya, in the playing XI, he is being used as a pure batsman. Thus, some have suggested swooping in other allrounders until Pandya is fully fit. Vijay Shankar, who had impressive Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020, can be the like-for-like replacement.
But former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir doesn’t believe that Shankar could create an impact like Hardik. Without mincing words, he admitted that India badly needs a sixth bowling option but observed that Shankar doesn’t have the potent batting like Hardik.
“Big-time and this has been happening since the last World Cup. If Hardik is not fit (to bowl), where is your sixth bowling option,” he said.
“It’s only Vijay Shankar that I can think of but does he have the same impact batting at No 5 or 6. Can he give you seven or 8 overs, I have my doubts,” the straight-talking Gambhir said.
If Hardik is unfit, where is the replacement? Gautam Gambhir
The World Cup 2011 winner added that the lapse in India is they don’t have many bowling options. On the other hand, Australia has a surfeit of allrounders.
“You can talk (about) putting in Manish Pandey, even if and when Rohit Sharma comes back in the XI, the problem you are facing now you will be facing then. There is no one in the top six who can actually give you a couple of overs,” he said.
“And if you see the Australian side, there is Moises Henriques, who can give you a couple of overs, there is Sean Abbott who is bowling all-rounder. They have Daniel Sams who can both bowl and bat.
However, Gautam Gambhir still questions India’s team management what will be their option until Hardik Pandya is fit.
“From the Indian point of view, if Hardik is unfit where is the replacement?,” Gautam Gambhir said.
Australia put up a mammoth 375 runs target in Sydney. In reply, Hardik Pandya and Shikhar Dhawan played gusty knocks but could not seal the win for India. Eventually, the host won the match by 66 runs. They will take on each other again in Sydney to play the second ODI.