Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir asserted that the only chances of Hardik Pandya making it to India’s playing XI for the upcoming T20 World Cup is if he gives his 100% to bowling in the warm-up matches and net sessions.
Hardik primarily played as a specialist batsman for Mumbai Indians (MI) in the recently concluded IPL 2021 season. He didn’t bowl a single delivery, which worried the fans and experts of an important ICC tournament. Gambhir was critical of the younger Pandya brother, stating that his bowling is a must if he wants to make it into the side.
“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.”
“He has to bowl in the practice matches and the nets, and he has to bowl 100 per cent. So if you are thinking that you will come and bowl just at 115-120 kph, I will not take that risk,” Gambhir said in a conversation on Star Sports’ show – The Game Plan.
“If I have to go with five bowlers, I’d pick Ishan Kishan Ahead Of Hardik Pandya” – Gautam Gambhir
Another MI batsman who was woefully out of form, Ishan Kishan, managed to hit his strides in the last couple of matches for Mumbai. He scored two fifties at breakneck speed, including a stunning 32-ball 84 in the final game against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). If the choice comes down to Kishan or Hardik Pandya, Gambhir reckons he’d go for the former.
“If I have to go with just five bowlers, then I will pick Ishan Kishan ahead of Hardik 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,” Gambhir added.
India is grouped alongside New Zealand, Afghanistan, and arch-rivals Pakistan. Two more teams will join them after the end of the qualifiers, which begins today. India plays its first match of the tournament against Pakistan on October 24 in Dubai.