The Indian selectors fretted over Hardik Pandya-s inability to bowl for over a month before making the forced change to the squad of 15 for the upcoming T20 World Cup, drafting in Shardul Thakur in place of Axar Patel.
-Hardik is fit and will bowl the full quota of his overs,- chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma had said at the team announcement last month. There has been no word on Pandya-s bowling readiness though. With the Mumbai Indians all-rounder not delivering a single ball in the UAE leg of IPL, no one can be certain if, when and how much bowling workload Pandya-s dodgy back can take
After MI-s IPL campaign ended, skipper Rohit Sharma didn-t sound confident. -All I know is he hasn-t bowled a single ball yet. But he-s getting better day by day. So, in the next week or so, he might be able to bowl; only the doctors or the physios will be able to give an update on that,- he said.
Despite doubts over Pandya-s bowling arm, Indian selectors have backed his batting abilities.
-He is not 100 percent when it comes to bowling so it will be a finisher-s role for Hardik in this World Cup. We will keep assessing him as we progress, but at present, the team will look at him as a batsman who comes in and looks to play the finisher-s role just like MS Dhoni did over the years,- said a source as quoted by Devdiscourse.
-With someone like Hardik, you know the level of dedication and effort is always 100 percent. So, we will keep working on his bowling,- he added
Pandya-s fitness concerns though have forced the selectors to dilute their Plan A, which was to go all-out with spin. With Patel out and pushed to the reserves, Virat Kohli is left with only four spin options. Patel has been outstanding with his left-arm spin this IPL, taking 15 wickets till Qualifier 2 and regularly bowling in the powerplay.
Eight players-Avesh Khan, Umran Malik, Harshal Patel, Lukman Meriwala, Venkatesh Iyer, Karn Sharma, Shahbaz Ahmed and K. Gowtham-have been named to assist the team at the nets.
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