Medium-pacer Hardik Pandya is unlikely to be called on to bowl first up during the Champions Trophy in England starting on June 1 after the Baroda all-rounder conceded 49 runs in six overs in the warm-up game against New Zealand yesterday. Defending champions India open against Pakistan on June 4.
Experts feel Pandya may not be skipper Virat Kohli's first choice with the new ball due to his tendency to bowl short. The 23-year-old has bowled 5 to 7 overs per match in the seven ODIs that he has played and has only completed his full quota of 10 overs against England at the Eden Gardens in January this year.
"His natural length is short and that he has to quickly alter in England. If he bowls the kind of short pitched stuff he bowled today, batsmen will punish him. He has the pace, the built and attitude of a fast bowler. But till now the little I have seen of him, he needs to use a bit of brain and be more consistent," 1983 World Cup winner Madan Lal told PTI.
Lal believes Bhuvneshwar (Kumar) and Umesh (Yadav) would be better to start with.
"They are the ones who bowl the ideal fuller length deliveries and can get it to swing both sides. Umesh bowls at 140 plus and these two have the ability to take big wickets -- an absolute must in big-ticket tournaments," Lal said.
In the recent IPL, the Baroda player bowled 26 overs in 17 matches for Mumbai Indians which is less than two overs per game.
"The current Indian team is blessed to have four quality limited overs bowler. My new ball choice would be Shami and Bhuvneshwar. Jasprit is fantastic as one change as he has great control with the semi-new ball (considering two new balls used)," former India wicketkeeper Vijay Dahiya said.
"I don't see Hardik getting a new ball. He is a certainty in the side as playing four fast bowlers would mean a long tail. He is your ideal No 7 batsman but you can use him for 4 -6 overs depending on the situation. His big-hitting abilities and positive mindset
Another former India player Deep Dasgupta also called for Pandya to bowl a fuller length.
"It is clear that only one among Ashwin or Jadeja will be playing as two spinners will be a luxury. With five fielders inside the circle, your fifth bowler has to be a seamer all-rounder. I don't mind Hardik being given the new ball first up if he can get it a bit fuller. But in any case, he has not regularly got 10 overs as his role is not that of a specialist fast bowler," Dasgupta said.
"It doesn't matter if you look at the pitches that are on offer for the Champions Trophy. Obviously, pitching it up is good but Hardik is someone who gets it to do a shade after pitching," he added.
"The problem for a first-timer in England is also the light. The sunlight and the occasional cloudy skies also play a part in your planning. But again Hardik is your fourth or fifth bowler and that's how he should be perceived," he concluded.
Pandya took a beating yesterday as he mostly bowled short of a good length in the match which was perceived by many as under-utilisation of the swinging strip of Kennington Oval. Shami and Bhuvneshwar made good use of the conditions to bag three wickets each as the Kiwis were dismissed for 189. India won the rain-hit match by 45 runs on D/L method.
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