Gautam Gambhir says India need to find a back-up for Hardik Pandya
By SMCS - Jan 4, 2023 12:30 pm
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Former India player Gautam Gambhir said that the team needs to identify a backup for seam-bowling allrounder Hardik Pandya as a priority considering the 50-over World Cup at home this October-November as well. Notably, Hardik has recently returned to full fitness after suffering a back injury that he’s had to manage over the past few years as well. Moreover, he is leading the team The upcoming ODIs against Sri Lanka, where he’ll be vice-captain, will be his first one-dayers since the tour of England in July 2022.

Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya played a flamboyant knock

“They need to quickly identify a back-up for Hardik; if something happens to him, India will be in serious, serious trouble,” Gautam Gambhir said on “Road To World Cup Glory”, a show on Star Sports.

However, Irfan Pathan, the former India all-rounder, said that the backup for Hardik Pandya doesn’t necessarily need to be a seam-bowling all-rounder because the tournament will be played in India. He also gave the example of Yuvraj Singh’s exploits at the 2011 World Cup, where he was Player of the Tournament with 362 runs and 15 wickets courtesy of his left-arm spin as well.

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“In these conditions, you’re allowed to have two spinning allrounders,” he said. “Guys like Washy [Washington Sundar], Axar [Patel], [Ravindra] Jadeja, and most importantly Deepak Hooda also [should be] in your scheme of things. Because he’s a batter; he just took four wickets in the New Zealand series. He [Hooda] needs to get a long run.”

Irfan Pathan also said Umran Malik will give India’s pace attack the much-needed X-factor, especially on flat decks where the ball may not get seam much. Gautam Gambhir, on the other hand, welcomed Jasprit Bumrah’s return, saying that he will be the team’s biggest strength at the World Cup.

Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya

“He’s a guy who can give you extra pace and bounce, he’s my guy,” Irfan Pathan said. “Avesh Khan can also be someone who can get bounce even on show pitches. You need guys who can give a little extra on such wickets.”

“This year [the core group should be focusing on] ODIs for sure. If they want to take a break, people who are playing all the three formats, they can definitely take a break from T20 cricket but surely not from ODI format. They have got to play together – I think the biggest mistake Indian cricket has made in the last probably two World Cups has been that they [the core players], these guys have not played enough cricket [in the lead up to the World Cups] together.

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“Tell me how many times have we got the best playing XI on the park? We haven’t. Only during the World Cup we decide to have the best playing XI… The break has to happen in the T20 format and not 50 overs. And from the [IPL] franchisee point of view, [if] franchises have to suffer, they have to suffer. Indian cricket is the main stakeholder, not the IPL, the IPL is just the byproduct. So if India goes on to win the World Cup, that is the big ovation,”