The biggest point during India’s 66-run-defeat to Australia in the 1st ODI at the Sydney Cricket Ground was the lack of 6th bowling option in their set-up. With Hardik Pandya still not available to bowl, and none of the top-5 batsmen boasting of the ability to contribute with the ball, India are facing a real issue in terms of balance of their side, and it is something that cannot be addressed unless the Men in Blue find an able seam-bowling all-rounder as back up Hardik, feels former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir.
In the absence of Hardik Pandya, India have tried the likes of Vijay Shankar and Shivam Dube in ODI and T20I cricket but none of them have shown any sort of impact with their bowling. On Vijay Shankar, who played the 2019 World Cup, Gautam Gambhir reckoned that the chasm of ability between him and Hardik is too wide to be bridged.
“Big time and this has been happening what — since the last World Cup. If Hardik is not fit (to bowl), where is your sixth bowling option,” Gautam Gambhir was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.
“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,” Gautaam Gambhir asked.
‘If Hardik is unfit where is the replacement?’- Gautam Gambhir
Gambhir further added that the problem will not be solved even if Team India slots in Manish Pandya or when Rohit Sharma comes back in the playing XI.
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 coupe of overs,” he said.
The former opener gave example of Australia who have plenty of sixth bowling options in their rank in the form of Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Cameron Green, Sean Abbott, Daniel Sams and Moises Henriques.
“And if you see the Australian side, there is Moises Henrqiues, who can give you couple of overs, there is Sean Abbott who is bowling all-rounder. They have Daniel Sams who can both bowl and bat. From Indian point of view, if Hardik is unfit where is the replacement?” he asked.