Why Hardik Pandya's injury is a blessing in disguise for brother Krunal
Hardik Pandya has been one of the best Indian all-rounders in recent times. Although many have questioned his position in the squad, the Baroda player has put up decent results for Team India.
Hardik has been the preferred fast bowling all-rounder for Virat Kohli and the selectors in the last few years, and hence his performance in the World Cup will be crucial for India. However, he will miss the Australia series due to an injury he suffered in the series against West Indies.
He has recently started batting again in the nets, and we all hope for his speedy comeback, but it is unlikely he will feature in the team any time soon.
His brother Krunal, meanwhile, has been a good player for Mumbai Indians in the past few seasons. He made his international debut in the recently concluded T20 series against West Indies, and performed well enough to earn selection for the T20 series against Australia.
In a way, his younger brother's absence has cleared his path to the national team.
But in the first T20I, Krunal was dismal as he got plundered for a lot of runs and failed to get going with the bat in the chase. On most other days, he would have been dropped after a performance like that.
However, Hardik's absence means India cannot drop Khaleel Ahmed, as a third pacer is a must in Australian conditions. Therefore, Yuzvendhra Chahal cannot be drafted into the playing XI, as his batting skills would not help the team balance. Kuldeep, meanwhile, cannot be dropped as he has been a consistent performer.
In effect, India necessarily have to play a spin-bowling all-rounder in order to balance both departments. Now Krunal's proficiency with the bat is regarded more highly than that of Washington Sundar, and India would not want to risk playing an inexperienced batsman at No. 7. Therefore, they have no option but to continue playing Krunal.
Had Hardik been available, Krunal would have been dropped for a genuine batsman and Khaleel would have made way for Chahal. Although that team combination could have posed a few problems of its own, at least India would have had that alternative available to them.
But without Hardik, there's only one option: playing Krunal. Hardik's injury is indeed proving to be a blessing for his brother in more ways than one.