Sanjay Manjrekar feels that Hardik Pandya not bowling and playing as a pure batsman is a gamble and Manish Pandey should have been included in his place as a specialist batsman. After the toss, Virat Kohli insisted that it’s important to start strong to set the tone for the rest of the series.
Playing for Mumbai Indians, Hardik Pandya did not bowl the whole season as a precautionary measure as he didn’t want to again hurt his back, where he sustained an injury in the T20s against South Africa back in 2019. Now for the Indian team as well, the all-rounder will play a similar role as he included in the first ODI against Australia. Pandya’s inclusion comes on the basis of his performance in the IPL, where he played crucial knocks for MI down the order, including an unbeaten 37 in the first qualifier.
However, former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar reckoned that with Pandya not bowling, it is a gamble that the Indian team have taken by including him in the playing XI. He stated that Manish Pandey could have been a better option and it was a bit unfair on Pandey since the batsman was part of India’s setup when they last played ODI in New Zealand.
“Hardik Pandya not bowling and playing as a pure batsman is a bit of a gamble. Let’s hope it works out. Jadeja was to be expected. I just make selections based on principles of having specialists but this is something that is understandable. That said, it’s unfair on Manish Pandey as a pure batsman to miss out to Hardik Pandya,” Manjrekar said, as quoted by Hindustan Times.
On the other hand, Pandey had a good run with Sunrisers Hyderabad, scoring 425 runs from 16 matches and along with that delivered his best numbers in IPL so far.
Revealing the playing XI after the toss, Indian skipper Virat Kohli stressed the importance of starting the series on a good note.
“It’s important to start well as a team, we need to start strongly and set the momentum for the matches ahead. The preparations have been nice, we got some valuable time (on account of the quarantine). Mayank Agarwal will open - Manish Pandey, Shubman Gill, Shardul Thakur, Natarajan and Sanju Samson are the five players missing out,” Kohli said.