Former India player turned commentator Aakash Chopra feels all-rounder Hardik Pandya is a sure-shot pick as a No. 6 batter in India’s ODI World Cup 2023 squad because of his all-round capabilities. The mega event will be played in India from October 5 to November 19 as well. The Indian team are currently in the West Indies for a three-match ODI series, with Pandya being one of the all-rounders in their 17-member squad as well.
In a video shared on his YouTube channel, Chopra said: “Then I will say Hardik at No. 6 because your story at four, five and six looks solid. There are no question marks over Hardik’s availability. The only question over Hardik is how much bowling fit he is. If he is bowling, [he] walks into the team any which way. However, if he is not bowling, there is a concern about who will be the sixth bowling option. You can play five bowlers after the No. 6, but you need a sixth bowling option.”
However, Hardik Pandya has scored 1584 runs which came at a decent average of 33.00 in 55 ODI innings. He has claimed 72 wickets at an economy rate of 5.61 in the 69 innings he has bowled in.
However, Hardik Pandya can be the third seamer if India wants to play three spinners in their playing XI as well. And, Aakash Chopra added that Hardik Pandya brings a unique skill set to the table for Team India.
He said: “The balance Hardik Pandya provides, unfortunately, no one will be able to do that because whether it is Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav or anyone else, no one bowls. So Hardik Pandya is a very, very important cog in India’s scheme of things.”
He also named Suryakumar Yadav and Sanju Samson as the best backups for Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul respectively as well. He further added that India do not have many other middle-order options available. He also opined on Ruturaj Gaikwad as well.
“You don’t have too many options in the middle order. If you see Ruturaj Gaikwad as a dark horse, he is an opener and at the most, you will play him at No. 3 and there is no place there in any case. He is anyway the captain for the Asian Games, which means he is not in your thoughts in any case,” Aakash Chopra concluded.