Former Indian skipper Kapil Dev believes that India, in the era of IPL, should experiment more with the T20 side and has called for Kohli to try batting Hardik Pandya at No.4 to add more bite to the middle order. Dev also called for the Indian management to put more faith on youngsters like Samson.
India solved the No.4 conundrum in ODI cricket post the 2019 World Cup by fitting in the ever-so-consistent Shreyas Iyer, but the problem has continued to bug them in T20s, where they are yet to zero in on a fixed candidate for the slot. Prior to 2020, they handed quite a lengthy rope to Rishabh Pant to little avail, and since they have experimented with the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey and Sanju Samson without getting the desired results. Samson was the most recent candidate auditioned by the Men in Blue, but while he showed promise, the youngster failed to make the spot his own, throwing away his wicket after getting off to promising starts.
In the wake of the ongoing conundrum, former Indian skipper Kapil Dev has chipped in with a radical opinion and has called for team India to experiment with Hardik Pandya at No.4 in T20s. Pandya was named the ‘Man of the Series’ in the recently concluded Australia T20Is for his exploits, but despite the 27-year-old plying his trade at No.6, Dev believes trying the explosive Mumbai Indians star at No.4 could be a move worth experimenting with.
“You need 2-3 players in the middle-order who can give you momentum. There is Hardik Pandya. You can make him a No.4 batsman in T20s. It’s all about experimenting,” Kapil told ABP Uncut, reported Hindustan Times.
Despite a plethora of youngsters such as Ishan Kishan and Devdutt Padikkal having breakthrough IPL seasons, the Indian selectors valued incumbency in the Australia series and persisted with seasoned campaigners like Shikhar Dhawan and Manish Pandey, with the inclusion of Samson being the only out-of-the-box selection. Mayank Agarwal, despite averaging close to 40 and striking at 156 in IPL 2020, saw himself warm the bench for all three games.
Dev urged team India to back more younger players in the shortest format and stated that he was surprised at the management’s apprehension to experiment, particularly in the era of IPL.
“You have youngsters like Mayank and Sanju Samson. The captain has to back youngsters and also the management. The think tank has to believe in building a new team because T20 is a format of the youth.
“It is surprising that despite hosting IPL for so many years you are still apprehensive in taking such calls. T20 allows youngsters to be ruthless and if there was no IPL then there wouldn’t have been any discussion but since we have a tournament like IPL, we should make more use of it,” Kapil added.