Ind vs Eng ODI: Hardik Pandya the bowler – England cruised to a six-wicket victory in the 2nd ODI to draw the series level with India utilising just five bowlers despite Hardik Pandya’s full fitness. It raised eyebrows as a fourth pacer would have come in handy on Friday in Pune as spinners were thrashed around by England batters en route a comfortable 337-run chase. However, Virat Kohli has justified his decision saying Pandya was not utilised as India would need his services in the WTC final and the Test series in England in July.
“We need to manage his body as well as going forward. We need to understand where we need his skillsets with the ball along with his batting,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation.
Hardik Pandya last bowled in an ODI match was back in Australia, but only for four overs and before that in the World Cup in 2019. The seam-allrounder last bowled his full quota (10 overs) in ODIs in India was in 2017 during the Sri Lanka series. But since then, he has faced multiple injuries, forcing BCCI and India team management to manage his workload for crucial series.
Although Kohli utilized his bowling in the 5-match T20I series against England, with Pandya expected to bowl in the IPL 2021 for Mumbai Indians, the team management decided against making use of his bowling skills in the ODI series.
The decision also limited India’s bowling option to five, compared to England’s six. With three pacers and two spinners in the two ODIs, India’s bowling attack looked a little weaker. Former India opener Akash Chopra said India would need to make some tough decisions for the series decider.
Kohli, however, justified his decision. “We used him in the T20Is but it’s a bit of workload management as well. We want to ensure we have Hardik Pandya fit and strong because he’s going to be an important part of the squad,” Kohli said.
India vs England: In English conditions, Pandya’s seam bowling could be a game-changer for India in the WTC final against New Zealand and the five-match Test series against England in July. Pandya last played a Test back in 2018, also against England in Southampton. The all-rounder was successful with the ball, scalping 10 wickets in six innings including a five-wicket haul.
Since then, despite including him in the Test squad, he has been overlooked. As for ODIs, Pandya’s batting skill is the one India have depended on.
As for his IPL franchise, it would be interesting to see if Mumbai Indians make use of his bowling. In IPL 2020, Pandya played as a batsman and did not bowl a single over in the 14 matches that he played in. Considering WTC final, Test series against England and the T20 World Cup in October, he could be used in a limited role in the IPL 2021,