New Delhi: With India pondering over its fast bowling options — whether to play two pacers or three fast bowlers in the XI for the all-important match against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup on Sunday, the management is still very hopeful about Hardik Pandya as the sixth bowling option. At least in the later stages of the tournament, Pandya could be seen bowling again for India.
Top BCCI sources said that Ravindra Jadeja is a certainty for the game, and if the management would go for three pacers for the Pakistan game, the toss up will be between R Ashwin and Varun Chakravarthy. “For certain, the competition in the team is quite intense,” a source revealed.
If batting all-rounder Pandya, who was facing criticism for not bowling in IPL, is recovering well to bowl again from India’s second or third match, it will only improve the balance of the team. “So, all hope isn’t lost. Pandya could come back strong. If he starts bowling again, it would only help India. There will be another bowling option,” the source said. It also means that Pandya would also be playing the role of finisher for the India team — thanks to the backing he got from Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
With the top three already ready — Rohit, KL Rahul and Kohli – Surya Kumar Yadav, and Rishab Pant are most likely to be No. 4 and 5. With Pandya batting at No.6 and Jadeja at seven, the rest of the slots are open for the bowlers. The fight for the second spinner slot is between R Ashwin and Varun Chakraborty. If India opts for two pacers, it is between Mohd Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. “If Hardik can start bowling, it will be the best for the team,” the source added.
Likely XI: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Surya Kumar Yadav/ Ishan Kishan, Rishab Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin/Varun Chakraborty, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd Shami, and Bhuvneswar Kumar.