Former cricketer Aakash Chopra reckons Indian selectors might alter the 15-member squad that was originally picked for the T20 World Cup.
Pandya did not bowl a single ball during Mumbai Indians’ (MI) IPL 2021 campaign. With the bat, he scored only 127 runs in 12 games and played just one innings of note - 40* against Punjab Kings (PBKS) in match number 42 in Abu Dhabi.
In a discussion on his YouTube channel, Chopra admitted that keeping Pandya in the squad for the T20 World Cup under the current scenario could affect the balance of the team. The former opener explained:
"When Hardik Pandya was picked in the 15 for the T20 World Cup, the selectors assumed he would be bowling. That's why they named only three fast bowlers in the squad. Hardik was supposed to be used as the fourth bowler.
"I am told, I don't know for sure, that the selectors were given a guarantee Hardik would start bowling soon. But, Rohit Sharma recently confirmed that he hasn't bowled a single ball yet. So, he's not bowling, and his batting form is absolutely absent."
Chopra further opined that the selectors might be tempted to include Shardul Thakur in the squad for the T20 World Cup 2021 because India will need a fourth pacer at the ICC event. The 44-year-old elaborated:
"He (Hardik) might not be in the team. Things can change radically. Six months back he was our most valuable asset. But now, it won't be a surprise if Shardul Thakur comes in.
"The balance of the side has been affected because Bhuveshwar Kumar's form is 50:50. That leaves India with only Bumrah and Shami."
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Thakur, Deepak Chahar and Shreyas Iyer were named as travelling reserves in India’s squad for the T20 World Cup announced last month.
"Dhoni knows how to keep the team united" - Aakash Chopra on India's T20 World Cup mentor
Apart from naming the squad for the T20 World Cup, the BCCI also picked former captain MS Dhoni as a mentor. Asked what role the legendary cricketer could play during India’s campaign, Chopra explained:
"He will help India in picking the right XI. He will read the pitch conditions very well. Players who are down on confidence will look to MSD for inspiration and gain confidence. Dhoni knows how to keep the team united and he will ensure that India keeps it simple."
Chopra also does not feel that there will be any conflict between Dhoni and coach Ravi Shastri. He concluded:
"I am pretty sure there will be no conflict with coach Ravi Shastri. Both Dhoni and Shastri are strong characters and, if they work together, they can do wonders. They have a common goal."
India will kick-off their T20 World Cup 2021 campaign by taking on Pakistan T20 World Cup squad 2021 in Dubai on October 24.