Anil Kumble stresses on importance of grooming Hardik Pandya

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© BCCI Media

Anil Kumble stresses on importance of grooming Hardik Pandya

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SportsCafe Desk


Indian cricket team’s coach Anil Kumble has backed Hardik Pandya’s inclusion in the Test squad, stressing on the importance of having an all-rounder ahead of the first Test against England. Kumble has also revealed that the team combination for the first game is yet to be decided.

“He is an extremely talented player. When he first came into IPL, he showed what he’s capable of; I think the potential Hardik has, has been seen by all. When he bowled in Dharamsala and batted in Delhi, one could see that he’s a quality player. That’s why we are backing him in this series as well. We all understand the importance of an all-rounder, as a fifth bowler and bat in the lower order, that’s a great option to have. We are keen how Hardik develops. We don’t want to put too much pressure on him, he will have all the freedom to express himself and not worry about Test cricket, whenever he gets the opportunity. He is a quality player whom we will back and yes, he will only get better. The more he plays, better he will get and it’s a nice thing to have an all-rounder in the squad,” Kumble said in an interview with The Hindu.

Kumble has also expressed his disappointment about the absence of Rohit Sharma due to an injury, especially, after how he had performed in the Test series against New Zealand.

“We had four or five days break after the series against New Zealand. We are playing a five Test series after a long time. We are happy with our preparation. Obviously disappointed with some of the injuries that has happened, but then it (injury) is part and parcel of the game. I feel sad, especially for Rohit (Sharma) because he was really doing well in the Test format (against New Zealand). We all know the importance of Rohit in the shorter format, but he started doing well in Test format and it’s unfortunate that he misses out on this series,” Kumble added.

With a couple of key players missing from the team, the Indian batting lineup could have a completely different look for the first Test. However, Kumble has insisted that the team management is yet to decide on the combination they will field.

“We still have not figured out the combination (for the first Test); everyone is available. With Hardik (Pandya) being part of the squad, we have more options. This is the first Test that will happen at Rajkot. India has played One-Day cricket and Twenty20 here. But we don’t know how the wicket will behave in a Test match. It looks a good surface. We still have a couple of days to decide the team for the Test match,” he said.

India cruised to a comfortable win over New Zealand in their last Test series, but England are expected to be a much tougher opponent. Kumble reminded the gathering about how the English bowlers have previously troubled the Indian batsmen.

“New Zealand was a hard-fought series. The result shows a 3-0 win to us (India), but we knew how hard we had to work to win the series. What was very nice to see during the series was that all the three surfaces (Kanpur, Kolkata and Indore) were very different and our team adapted to the conditions and that’s out strength. Yes, we certainly look at the opposition and find out what their strengths and weaknesses are. Having said that England is a quality side. Alistair Cook has been here a number of occasions. He’s a quality player at the top and that’s something we will be looking at. There is Joe Root and also their bowling attack is something that has troubled us in the past. What we would like to focus on is what we can do, and how we can measure up to and that’s how we played against New Zealand. As I said, we adapted to the three surfaces quickly and did the right things as a team. As a bowling unit we bowled in the right areas, because each wicket/surface demanded a different adaptation as a bowler. Our batting also clicked and that’s what we are expecting in the first Test here as well,” Kumble explained.

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