Former India wicketkeeper Saba Karim reckons it is “harsh” on Axar Patel to be dropped from India’s squad for the T20 World Cup. But, he explains, that Shardul Thakur needed to be in the squad as a backup for Hardik Pandya.
On Wednesday, the BCCI announced a solitary change to their 15-man squad: Thakur, who was earlier part of the standby players, replaced spin-bowling all-rounder Axar Patel in the main squad. Patel has been swapped with Thakur as a travelling reserve to accompany Deepak Chahar and Shreyas Iyer.
Saba Karim explains that while there is nothing wrong Patel had done – he has taken 15 wickets at an economy of 6.65 in the IPL 2021 – it was the need for Hardik’s backup that forced the selectors to add Thakur, who also has been in form with the ball – 18 wickets at an economy of 8.76 – and has shown his ability with the bat in Test cricket.
“There were discussions on what would the team do by having so many spinners in the squad. But it is still harsh for someone like Axar Patel to get dropped as he has been in good form,” Saba Karim said while speaking on the Khelneeti podcast.
“Shardul has been brought up because the selectors wanted a backup for Hardik Pandya in case the need arises. Thakur deserves it. If Hardik misses out at some stage due to fitness issues, then Shardul might take his spot in the Indian side.”
Pandya is a wonderful match-winner: Saba Karim
Hardik Pandya hasn’t bowled a single ball for Mumbai Indians during the entire IPL 2021, and that is a worry for the national side heading into the T20 World Cup. He hasn’t been at his best with the bat either.
Saba Karim, though, feels if Pandya starts bowling in the World Cup as a sixth bowler, he’d be a great asset for the side.
“Hardik Pandya is a wonderful match-winner, there is no doubt about that. He is a good batting all-rounder. I think there is still time, and if he starts bowling, he will be a great asset for the team as the sixth bowling option. That is why he was selected for the team,” the former selector added.
India take on Pakistan in their opening encounter on October 24 in Dubai. They will then meet New Zealand, Afghanistan, and two other teams who will qualify from Round 1 in the Super 12 stage.