Team India will return to action in the first T20I of the five-match series against South Africa in Delhi later tonight. In the shortest format, India’s star wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik, as well as all-rounder Hardik Pandya, make their comebacks.
Pandya last played for India in the T20 World Cup last year and has been out of action since then owing to injury. However, in the 2022 Indian Premier League, the 28-year-old returned to form, leading the Gujarat Titans to the title.
Hardik Pandya Can Be All Format Player Just Based On His Batting Skills: Ashish Nehra
Former India pacer Ashish Nehra, who was the head coach of the Gujarat Titans team that won the IPL title last month, spoke with Pandya about his comeback to India colours in T20Is against South Africa. Pandya, according to Nehra, can be India’s all-format player based solely on his batting abilities.
“We always talk about Hardik Pandya, whether he will be able to bowl or not. See, what I think is that Pandya can fit into any format as a batsman; even in Test matches. But here, we are talking about T20s. If he bowls, it will obviously be beneficial for India,” Nehra said on Cricbuzz.
Hardik Pandya should be utilised as a sixth bowler, according to the former Indian bowler, and there should be no pressure on him to bowl out his four-over quota. “With India’s squad composition, they need Hardik Pandya because none of their top-order batters bowl. Hardik is used as a fifth-bowler quite often. If he’s fit, he should bowl, no doubt. But it would be better if Hardik plays without the constant pressure of bowling four overs every game. You have to play five bowlers and Hardik Pandya as a sixth bowler,” said Nehra.
It would be interesting to see what role he plays today when India plays against South Africa.