Ajit Agarkar stressed the importance of Hardik Pandya bowling for India in the upcoming white-ball series against Sri Lanka, saying that him bowling 2-3 overs in T20Is makes the job of captain Virat Kohli easy, as he can then play two spinners in the XI.
Hardik Pandya’s all-around skills made him one of the most sought-after players in T20 cricket. However, since getting injured in the 2018 Asia Cup, Hardik has never been the same, especially after he underwent back surgery to correct the issue and has not been bowling as much as the Indian team management would like.
India Needs Hardik Pandya To Bowl To Make Virat Kohli’s Job Easier: Ajit Agarkar
He recently bowled a bit in the limited series at home against England, while he had played the IPL 2020 and IPL 2021 for Mumbai Indians as a pure batsman, and his finishing abilities also make him an automatic choice in the Indian team as a pure batter. However former India pacer Ajit Agarkar feels that Hardik Pandya’s bowling will make the life of the Indian team and captain Virat Kohli easy.
“I hope he (Pandya) starts bowling. I am not quite sure why he didn’t bowl in the IPL. I think he bowled in the last ODI against England in Pune. So, I hope if there is an injury it must have been sorted. Because I think it was just a niggle that’s why he didn’t bowl. He walks into the side as a batsman but you need Hardik to bowl,” Agarkar said in a virtual PC for Sony India-official broadcasters of the India-Sri Lanka series.
Agarkar further argued that if Hardik Pandya bowls, then India can play an extra bowler in a second spinner making it easy for Virat Kohli to handle the pressure in case one or two bowlers have an off day. He cited the England series where the five bowlers were under pressure since Hardik couldn’t chip in with a few overs.
“We saw in that series (England ODIs) how there was pressure on the other five bowlers when he couldn’t bowl. So, if you have a sixth option, at this moment the way the white-ball cricket is, it is hard on bowlers. You need a sixth option as one or two bowlers will have a tough day with five players in the ring. And he (Pandya) is an ideal one; he is a seam bowling all-rounder. If he can give you those four overs then, at least two or three overs, it takes off huge pressure. And then you can alter your combination. You might play two spinners if Hardik is available. It just makes captain’s job easier,” Agarkar said.
Hardik Pandya will be seen in action when India locks horns with Sri Lanka in three ODIs and as many T20Is from July 18 after the series was rescheduled last week. The three ODIs will be played on July 18, 20, and 23. The three T20Is will go ahead on July 25, 27, and 29. R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo hosting all six matches.