Team India skipper Virat Kohli has thrown light on why Hardik Pandya didn't bowl in the 2nd India-England ODI. Kohli revealed that the decision was part of managing the all-rounder's workload to keep him fit and ready for all three formats.
England's Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow made light work of India's seemingly par total of 336 on Friday. With both pugnacious batsmen recording their respective hundreds, the visitors chased down the total with 6 wickets and 39 balls to spare.
Despite the visitors' onslaught against both Kuldeep Yadav and Krunal Pandya, Virat Kohli stuck with his 5 main bowlers. Analysts and fans alike felt that Hardik Pandya's shrewd cutters and bouncers could have been of good use on the flat Pune wicket.
But as Virat Kohli explained in the post-match presentation, the hosts also have their eye on the upcoming Test matches in England and want to ease their ace all-rounder through the levels of workload.
"We need to manage his body as well going forward. We need to understand where we need his skill sets with the ball along with the kind of batting skills he brings to the field. So, we did utilise him in the T20Is but in the ODIs, it's about managing his workload. We have Test cricket in the future, in England, coming up too. So we want to make sure we have Hardik Pandya fit and his body is going strong in the next few months as well because he is going to be a very important factor in our squad in all formats of the game," said Virat Kohli.
Hardik Pandya returned to near full-tilt bowling in the 5-match T20I series after a layoff that lasted over a year. He picked up 3 wickets in those games at an economy of 6.94 - the second-best from both sides.
Very pleased to see youngsters like Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya stepping up: Virat Kohli
Speaking further, Virat Kohli commended the efforts of Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant, who helped the team put a competitive total on the board.
"We lost two wickets early, needed a partnership and that happened between KL and myself. And then KL carried on and got a big score. Really happy for him, he's playing well, he's hitting the ball nicely again. And then Rishabh changed the game there, took the momentum away. We thought that 300 would be a great effort but getting those 35 extra runs was purely down to his counterattack and then Hardik finished off strongly as well. Very pleased with seeing all these youngsters stepping up and doing the job every game," said Virat Kohli.
The series is now level at 1-1 and is perfectly poised for a cracking decider on March 28.