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T20 World Cup: Hardik Pandya’s form raises concern for selectors

T20 World Cup: Hardik Pandya’s form raises concern for selectors

With just 47 days to go for T20 World Cup, Hardik Pandya is battling a poor run of form in IPL 2024 for Mumbai Indians as an all-rounder.

The BCCI Selection Committee has a major concern with just 47 days to go for T20 World Cup 2024. The elephant in the room is Hardik Pandya. The vice-captain of the India T20 squad is currently enduring a poor run of form in IPL 2024. He hasn’t clicked with the bat, a 42-year-old MS Dhoni hammered him for 20 runs off four balls and Hardik hasn’t delivered as a captain either. Instead, the rumoured rift between Hardik and Rohit Sharma has added to the problems for Ajit Agarkar & Co.

India’s squad will be announced in the first week of May and that’s just 16 days away. That there is no like-for-like replacement for Hardik Pandya is a major concern. While selectors will be happy with how Shivam Dube has batted so far, he is not even close to replacing Hardik in India’s Playing XI.

“Hardik is a crucial cog in the team for sure. His form has been a little up and down. But there is still time. He has just switched a team with new responsibilities. It could happen to any player. We hope he regains his form before the World Cup. We need him at his best,” a senior BCCI official told InsideSport before the MI vs CSK clash.

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The Hardik Problem: Batting

Hardik Pandya gets a crucial No 6 role in India Playing XI. However, ahead of the T20 World Cup, he is enduring a poor run of form.

In IPL 2024, Hardik has scored 131 runs in 6 innings. The Mumbai Indians captain has maintained a strike rate of 145.56. But that’s only because of his innings against Royal Challengers Bengaluru. In other innings, he faltered.

Hardik Pandya in IPL 2024

  • 2 off 6 vs CSK at 33.33
  • 21 off 6 vs RCB at 350.00
  • 39 off 33 vs DC at 118.18
  • 34 off 21 vs RR at 161.90
  • 24 off 20 vs SRH at 120.00
  • 11 off 4 vs GT at 275.00

The longer he bats, the more problems he creates for Mumbai Indians. And that could translate to his batting in the USA & West Indies in the T20 World Cup. With slower surfaces expected, his strike rate could be a major talking point, especially when he will be expected to go hammer and tongs to finish things off. But Hardik has a dot-ball percentage of 35. Out of 90 balls he has faced, he has not scored a run off 31 of them. That is a concern for a finisher.

The bowling problem

For some reason, Hardik Pandya has only bowled a full quota of four overs against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Against RR and DC, he did not bowl. And that is the biggest problem. In the 66 deliveries he has bowled so far, Hardik has picked up only three wickets and has leaked runs at an economy rate of 12.00. That MS Dhoni hammered him for a hat-trick of sixes in the final over of MI vs CSK clash on Sunday will haunt him for a long time.

Hardik’s bowling in IPL 2024

  • 2/43 vs CSK in 3 ovs
  • 0/13 vs RCB in 1 ovr
  • Did not bowl vs DC
  • Did not bowl vs RR
  • 1/46 vs SRH in 4 ovs
  • 0/30 vs GT in 3 ovs

That also translates to problems for India. Team India will have to rely on Hardik as a third seamer for the balance of the side. With Mohammed Shami set to miss out on the T20 World Cup, Hardik will be the second most experienced seamer after Jasprit Bumrah. And if Rohit Sharma cannot rely on Hardik to bowl four overs, it is going to be a huge problem.

To put it bluntly, there is no place for Hardik the batter in India’s Playing XI. He will only be in the team as a proper all-rounder.

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Is there a Rohit-Hardik rift?

A rift between the captain and the vice-captain could be catastrophic for Team India. There have been rumours of a rift in the Mumbai Indians camp. If Hardik has a group, there are Rohit loyalists as well on the MI side.

While Hardik Pandya has claimed that the atmosphere in the team is great, the constant jeers by fans could take a toll eventually. And that’s not good for Team India.

The reason for a probable rift may be obvious to fans as Rohit was removed as the MI captain for Hardik, the two have to sort things out or at least show support for each other in public. Else, the rumour-mongering on social media could create real-world issues.

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