Hardik Pandya bowls during a practice session in Mumbai ahead of India’s first ODI against Australia. (AFP)
Hardik Pandya’s involvement with the ball had diminished following his back surgery in 2019
Star India allrounder Hardik Pandya, who will lead the side in the absence of regular skipper Rohit Sharma in the first ODI of the three-match series against Australia in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Friday, kept his cards close to his chest when asked if he would bowl his full quota of 10 overs.
“That’s a secret, why would I say here? Let them (Australia) prepare that I might not bowl as well,” Pandya said at a press conference in Mumbai on Thursday. “Whatever the situation requires I will do it. If I think I can bowl more, I will bowl,” he later clarified.
Pandya’s medium pace adds depth to any side and he has 68 wickets in ODIs at an average (runs conceded per wicket taken) of 38.52 and strike rate of 41.3 (deliveries sent down per wicket taken) to show as proof of his bowling abilities. Although his economy is a bit on the higher side, he can, crucially, be brought on as a partnership-breaker.
Pandya’s involvement with the ball had diminished following his back surgery in 2019. Since then, he has refrained from sending down his full quota of overs more often than not. One would remember that Pandya used to be regular with the ball and often completed his quota of overs during the ICC World Cup in England in 2019.
The stand-in India skipper also announced that his side will be opening with Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan, both of whom have been in fine fettle and recently picked up a rare ODI double ton each. With Kishan also good enough to don the wicketkeeper’s gloves, Pandya’s announcement means that KL Rahul will have to sit out.
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Pandya also made it clear that the players are perfectly happy with the decisions made by the team management on workload-related issues. “We have to have faith in our strength and conditioning coaches. I am a guy who trusts his team. These calls of workload, who should play when, who should not play, that is completely on the guys who are professionals and it is their call,” he said.
“All these guys are confident that if they miss out on some matches, then they miss out. It’s okay. That’s the confidence we have. If someone misses out because of workload management, this management has shown confidence and trust in the players. I think that’s the reason players who have gone out have come back with a lot of security,” Pandya added.
India have been in great form in the home ODIs this year, having won all their six matches so far and are fresh from a 2-1 Test series win over Australia and qualification for the ICC World Test Championship.
Pandya will be leading the ODI side for the first time with Rohit away due to family commitments and the team’s focus will not only be on winning this series but on getting the combination right before the ICC World Cup in October-November later this year. Pandya has already led India in T20Is.
Also read – IND vs AUS 2023: India’s World Cup Preparedness in Focus as Hardik Pandya to Make ODI Captaincy Debut
For Australia, as in the just-concluded third and fourth Tests, Steve Smith will be in charge as regular skipper Pat Cummins will miss the series owing to his mother’s demise.
The second and third ODIs of the series are to be played on March 19 in Visakhapatnam and on March 22 in Chennai respectively.
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