IPL 2021: "Selectors will have to answer this" - Gautam Gambhir lashes out at Hardik Pandya for not bowling ahead of T20 World Cup

Gautam Gambhir (L) and Hardik Pandya.
Gautam Gambhir (L) and Hardik Pandya.
Rudransh Khurana

Gautam Gambhir lashed out at all-rounder Hardik Pandya for not bowling in the IPL 2021 despite being a "one-format player" on Tuesday. Gambhir also questioned national selectors for putting Pandya in the T20 World Cup squad despite his poor overall form in the past year.

Hardik Pandya was last seen bowling during the India-Sri Lanka series in July. He didn't feature in Mumbai Indians' first few games in the UAE leg of IPL 2021 despite the two-month break. The franchise labeled it a precautionary measure, saying they are "balancing the needs" of the Indian team by giving him some rest.

Gautam Gambhir, speaking to ESPNcricinfo, talked about the problem with the situation. Gambhir believes if Pandya wants to bowl during the marquee tournament, he should start his preparations in the IPL. The former Indian batsman said:

"The biggest upset in this batting lineup is Hardik Pandya. He hasn't played any cricket, he is just a one-format player for me now. He only plays white-ball cricket and hasn't delivered this year and he's got into the T20 World Cup side when he hasn't bowled either. So that's a huge surprise."

Gambhir was not impressed with the selectors either. He said:

"Selectors will probably have to answer this whether he's actually going to bowl four overs in the World Cup and if he decides to do that, does he have those overs under him? If he decides to bowl in the World Cup he has to start bowling from now on, Whether it's one or two overs per game so that he can... deliver during the World Cup where India will be looking to win."

Gautam Gambhir further remarked that if Hardik Pandya doesn't bowl at all, he won't fit the bill of Gambhir's preferred playing XI. The former Indian batsman added:

"But if he doesn't bowl during the World Cup, then it's actually pretty difficult for me to put him into the playing XI. If he doesn't bowl I don't think he can be a part of India's best playing XI."

Hardik Pandya's no-show with the ball in the UAE came as a surprise. Soon after the T20 World Cup squad was announced, chief selector Chetan Sharma had claimed that Pandya was fit to bowl his quota of four overs.

While India could play him as a specialist batsman in the World Cup, Hardik Pandya hasn't impressive with the bat lately either. He has scored 112 runs at an average of 14 and a strike rate of 114.29.

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"Rohit Sharma not getting a 600-700 IPL season is a massive surprise for me" - Gautam Gambhir

Colossal effort by the bowlers πŸ’ͺπŸ”₯Now it's time for the batters to get the job done! πŸ’―#OneFamily #MumbaiIndians #IPL2021 #RRvMI

Gautam Gambhir has also touched upon Rohit Sharma's form this season. He said despite the Mumbai Indians skipper's international record, his sustained lackluster return in the IPL is a "massive surprise" to him.

Gautam Gambhir said:

"We keep talking about Rohit Sharma. He's got that quality [but] these numbers don't match his ability to be honest irrespective of where they play, whether it's Chennai or Sharjah. He should have a 500-600 run season, he hasn't had that in a very long time."

Gambhir said he expected Sharms to have the season Kohli did in the 2016 edition of the Indian Premier League.

"I would have expected him to have a season that Virat Kohli had once (973 runs, 2016) because he has that ability. For someone who can get three or four T20 hundreds for India not getting a 600-700 season for Mumbai Indians is a massive surprise to me."

Mumbai Indians are currently playing against Rajasthan Royals in Sharjah and limited Sanju Samson and co. to just 90-9 in the first innings.

Edited by Diptanil Roy
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