Anil Kumble feels that Hardik Pandya has great potential and has shown that in the limited opportunities that he has received. The legendary spinner also said that Pandya being an all-rounder who can bowl with pace makes him an integral part of MS Dhoni's plans.
"He is someone who will be closely monitored and we will see how he progresses. He certainly has the potential. He has shown his potential in the limited opportunities that he has got," Kumble told the media ahead of the second ODI in Delhi.
"He is someone who obviously gives us the right balance because he can bowl. He can not only bowl, he bowls at a pretty decent pace as well. It
Pandya was exceptional in the first ODI ending the game with figures of 3/31 and picking up the man of the match award in his debut match to hand India a 1-0 lead in the five-match series against the Kiwis.
Kumble believes the performance in the first ODI would give Pandya confidence for the upcoming matches that could make him an "asset" to the team in the long run. As such the management is not asking the youngster to bowl specific lines to batsmen or advising him on how to bat.
"So it was something that I am sure will give him a lot of confidence. All-rounders who can run in and bowl quick and bat are certainly an asset. As someone who has just started his international
"We tell him to bowl freely and not worry about getting hit. We don't tell him to bowl in one particular spot. Even with his batting, he has the freedom to go and bat freely whatever be the match situation."
Kumble also praised Ajinkya Rahane's form stating that the Mumbai-born batsman would continue opening the innings with Rohit Sharma in the absence of Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul.
"At the moment Rahane certainly fits in at the top of the order. That is something we will persist with. It does give us an option once Shikhar (Dhawan) and K.L. Rahul are fit. We have a lot of time before the next ODI series against England. In this ODI series, Rahane will open the batting. Looking at the Champions Trophy we will then decide who is our opening combination," Kumble explained.
The 46-year-old coach also spared a thought for Manish Pandey as well, a player who has shown great promise and flexibility in batting at different positions for all the teams he has played for.
When asked if Pandey could be handed the No. 4 spot, Kumble replied, "We have a couple of options at that spot. Manish (Pandey) is someone who has done really well in the recent past. He started off well even in Dharamsala. Manish is someone who has shown promise and the performances to back it as well."
"He comes into the Indian team with a lot of experience in domestic cricket.
Kumble was also quizzed on why captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was sent up the order and if he would continue to play in the same position for the rest of the series.
"It all depends on match situations. While chasing you need more experience. As far as MS is concerned, he has enough experience. He has shown over the years that he has enough capabilities as a batsman. We don't need to really look close at giving him time to settle in. You will probably see a different batting order depending on different situations," answered the Indian coach.