Prominent cricket commentator-cum-analyst Harsha Bhogle has reckoned that Hardik Pandya’s return to the Indian side for the three-match ODI series against South Africa at home restores the balance of the XI. The first match of the series will be played at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala on March 12.
What compounded the miseries for the Men in Blue after their heart-breaking loss on the cusp of a World Cup final last year was the fact that they lost their premier all-rounder to a long-term injury. Pandya hasn’t played any ODI matches since, and boy, have India tried all ways and means to find the balance without him — to no real avail.
“There’s a term that organizations use for an event that takes place that affects the running the company — and yet, does so in a positive way. It’s called positive turbulence. I think that is what the return of Hardik Pandya does. India were waiting for his return to achieve that balance,” Bhogle said on Cricbuzz’s Voice of Cricket.
His return, though, is good news for the bowling department, as Bhogle feels Pandya cannot deliver his full quota of 10 overs just yet. According to the 54-year-old, this guarantees Ravindra Jadeja’s place in the side, while opening up the option of playing both wrist spinners — Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav — together again.
“Pandya’s recovery has largely been about his batting. He batted well in the DY Patil tournament and bowled a little bit. But I’m not sure he’s ready to bowl 10 overs yet. With Kedhar Jadhav dropped, there’s nobody in the top 6 who can give you some overs. That means Hardik Pandya will return to the side to bat at No.6 — giving you four or five overs — and that means Ravindra Jadeja stays in the side. Together, they become the fifth bowler for India, which allows for either both wrist spinners or further strength in the fast bowling department,” Bhogle said.
On the other hand, Pandya at No.6 means there will be no place for Manish Pandey in the batting line-up if the team management sticks with KL Rahul at No.5 — something Bhogle is hoping against hope that they will change, at least for the upcoming series.
“Pandya’s arrival, though, affects Manish Pandey the most, because he now finds himself without a place in the side as the Indian team management continue to insist on playing KL Rahul at No.5. Because these three games are in isolation, not leading anywhere, I’d play Rahul at the top and reward Pandey for his good form with a place at No.5,” Bhogle added.
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi