WITH his form and fitness coming under the scanner during the ongoing IPL, India’s all-rounder Hardik Pandya is in a spot of bother. Top BCCI sources indicated to India Ahead that the batting all-rounder’s inability to hit consistent form is being discussed by the team management. Further, Hardik not bowling for Mumbai Indians has added more fuel to the speculation on whether he would be a dependable option or not for India in World T20.
It is understood that Hardik was picked by the selectors as a batting all-rounder and if he is not in great form with the bat and also not bowling regularly for his IPL team because of the lack of fitness, the team management may be forced to go in for some other option. That option could be Shardul Thakur, who is considered to be the bowling all-rounder. With desperation growing within the Indian fraternity to win an ICC event, BCCI is also not leaving any stone unturned to ensure India get back to winning ways.
Sources said that the Indian team management considers Hardik to be “a very important player” for the balance of the team and if he is not able to come forth as a potent force to reckon with, it would be nearly impossible to retain the lanky all-rounder. Earlier too, Hardik was in red-hot form in the shorter formats of the tournament for India and wasn’t considered for Test matches because he was struggling with his fitness and couldn’t bowl lengthy spells.
Therefore, the next few Mumbai Indians’ matches would be crucial for Hardik. With pressure on Virat Kohli and men to do well, the team wants to click all the boxes before the tournament begins. After all, team India is yet to win an ICC Trophy after its Champions Trophy win in 2013. “First of all, he has to start bowling and show his fitness. His form with the bat is also important for India. At a time when Thakur can’t do anything wrong, time is running out for Hardik to hit form and fitness,” a BCCI source added.
The script is clear — perform or perish!