Hardik Pandya is fit to play against New Zealand. (PC: rediff.com)
Hardik Pandya is fit to play against New Zealand. (PC: rediff.com)

T20 World Cup 2021: Hardik Pandya fit to play against New Zealand

Rudransh Khurana

In a big relief to Team India ahead of their second T20 World Cup 2021 game against New Zealand, Hardik Pandya has been deemed fit to play. The all-rounder was hit on his right shoulder while batting in the opening game against Pakistan. He was taken for scans immediately and didn't field in the second innings.

An ANI source in the know of developments confirmed the same to the news agency on Monday, saying it was just a "precautionary scan" and Hardik Pandya is already feeling good. The source said:

"There is no issue and he is already feeling good. It was just a precautionary scan and the team management didn't wish to take a chance as yesterday was only the first game of the tournament."

Hardik Pandya came to bat only in the 18th over - after Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja - against Pakistan. He played eight balls, scoring just 11. Although he had two boundaries to his name, one of them came from an overthrow.

Seeing the Mumbai Indians player struggle to get under the ball against Pakistan's death bowlers and his sustained inability to contribute on the bowling front has brought his spot in the XI into doubt. Many observers are calling for the inclusion of either bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur or Ishan Kishan to the team.

"It was a big mistake playing Hardik Pandya" - Brad Hogg

Time to reflect and come back stronger 👍

#TeamIndia #T20WorldCup
12:20 PM · Oct 25, 2021

Former Australian spinner Brad Hogg professed a similar opinion on Monday. Speaking on his YouTube channel, Hogg suggested bringing in both Thakur and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to the team.

He argued that Hardik Pandya adds little value to the team as a "frontline batter" if he can't bowl.

Hogg said:

"I think it was a big mistake playing Hardik Pandya. The only other way I would have gone is Thakur in place of probably Shami and Ashwin for Pandya. In that case, you can have Jadeja batting in at 6, Thakur at 7 and Ashwin at 8. Pandya has got to be bowling if he wants to be in the playing XI. He has got a lot of talent, but he is just not a frontline batter."

However, communication from the Indian team management suggests they are unlikely to drop Hardik Pandya anytime soon, with Virat Kohli and co. throwing their weight behind his batting ability. And as for his bowling, the all-rounder now has a week to gain some strength back before the New Zealand clash in Dubai on Sunday.

Edited by Samya Majumdar
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