Dharamshala, Oct 21 (SocialNews.XYZ) India coach Rahul Dravid admitted that injury to vice-captain and all-rounder Hardik Pandya has meant the team will not be having the balance it had in first four games ahead of its top-of-the-table Men’s ODI World Cup clash against New Zealand at the HPCA Stadium on Sunday.
Pandya has been ruled out of India's match against New Zealand after injuring his left ankle in their previous match against Bangladesh at the MCA Stadium in Pune. While trying to stop a boundary hit by Litton Das on third ball of the ninth over, Pandya seemed to twist his left ankle in his follow-through after slipping in the process of saving the four and went off the field, to not participate in rest of the game.
“Hardik is an important player for us and he is an important all-rounder so helps us really balance our squad out really well. But he is going to be missing this game, so we will have to work around that and see what is the best combination and what we can come up with best.”
“In the end, we've got to work with the 14 that we've got. Sometimes you do expect that these kind of things can happen, so that's why you have got a squad. We will have to see what works best for these conditions and these wickets. But, probably might not have the kind of balance that we probably used in the first four games,” said Dravid in the pre-match press conference.
Dravid refused to give too much of hints over the likely combination in Pandya’s absence, but did mention about the team looking at possibility of playing either three pacers or entire spin troika, something which they did in their tournament opener against Australia at Chennai.
“With Hardik not being there and Hardik being one of those four seamers, we'll just have to see with the combination we can go with. We certainly can go with the three fast bowlers or the three spinners. With that kind of combination, we still could play him and play Ash (Ravichandran Ashwin) and move Jadeja up.”
“But there are different combinations we could come up with. The three seamers, having someone like Shami sitting out there and bringing him in this game is a great option. In some cases, there is Ashwin who has obviously been sitting out, who has great quality as well. So, there are two or three combinations we could use considering this till Hardik gets back.”
“Many different, different permutations and combinations. I wouldn't want to give too much away. I mean, we are pretty clear on what our playing 11 is tomorrow. But I wouldn't want to be giving too much away.”
In Pandya’s absence, the role of Shardul Thakur as the lone pace bowling all-rounder becomes all more crucial. At Pune, Thakur had figures of 1-59 when he stepped up to shoulder more bowling duties in Pandya’s absence. Till now, he’s picked two scalps and hasn’t got a chance to bat yet.
Dravid elaborated that Thakur had been given the clarity of being an bowling all-rounder in the eleven. “Without going into too much of specifics, and it's hard to go into a lot of specifics in a PC, but Shardul clearly, his role was to be that kind of bowling all-rounder for us, in the games that he played.”
“We saw him as someone who certainly has a happy knack of taking wickets as we have seen and then bowling those middle overs for us and being like a fourth seeming option for us on certain wickets which would probably require that fourth seeming option.”
“Plus, he hasn't had a chance to really bat a lot over the last bit. But certainly, he's been working very hard in the nets with his batting and we've been working very hard on it. We've seen that he has the ability to hit some big shots and play some good shots.”
“Of course, we've seen it more probably in Test cricket, not so much in one-day cricket as yet, because he has not had the opportunity to bat much. But certainly, that was the kind of role he fitted in for us in that bowling all-rounders role.”