Aakash Chopra has said that Hardik Pandya needs to start bowling regularly as it is very much essential for Team India's balance.
Hardik Pandya has had sporadic stints as a bowler over the last few months. He didn't bowl at all in the seven encounters the Mumbai Indians played in IPL 2021 before the tournament was suspended.
In a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra responded that it is important for Hardik Pandya to bowl in the series against Sri Lanka when asked about the same.
"He will have to start bowling now. He bowled a few overs in Australia, then you played against England and in the IPL. You didn't bowl for your team in the IPL as well. It's been a very patchy kind of ride."
The cricketer-turned-commentator reasoned that the presence of Hardik Pandya as a seam-bowling all-rounder lends much-required balance to the Indian team.
"You were looking at him for Test cricket but he is not available for you there as well because he is not bowling. When you look at it from that vantage point, there is only one player like Hardik Pandya, he provides balance. Hardik Pandya as a fast-bowling all-rounder, Ravindra Jadeja as a spinning all-rounder and Washington Sundar with them, it becomes a superb team."
Team India would certainly have depth in both the batting and bowling departments if they could field a fully-fit Hardik Pandya alongside Ravindra Jadeja and Washington Sundar in their T20I playing XI.
"Hardik Pandya bowling makes it easier for India to get the right balance" - Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra wants Hardik Pandya to bowl his full quota of overs in the T20I series against Sri Lanka and decent spells in ODIs as well. He elaborated:
"There are six encounters here, even if he doesn't bowl ten overs in the ODIs, but six to eight and bowls his full quota in T20s, full overs in the IPL and then definitely in the World Cup because Hardik Pandya bowling makes it easier for India to get the right balance."
While acknowledging that Hardik Pandya can play in the Indian team purely as a batsman, the 43-year-old stressed the importance of him bowling as well.
"He will play for sure, there is no doubt about that. He can play as a batsman itself, I will say you should make him bat slightly higher in T20s but if he doesn't bowl you need to add an extra bowler. The moment that happens, the balance goes for a toss, your batting does not remain that deep then."
Hardik Pandya bowled 17 overs in the five T20Is India played against England earlier this year and was one of their most economical bowlers.
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The Indian team will surely hope that the all-rounder is at peak fitness for the Sri Lanka tour and the bigger battles ahead.