'Hardik Pandya can't be your fifth bowler': Sanjay Manjrekar fires big warning to Rohit Sharma and Co ahead of T20 WC | Crickit
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'Hardik Pandya can't be your fifth bowler': Sanjay Manjrekar fires big warning to Rohit Sharma and Co ahead of T20 WC

ByAditya Maheshwari
Jun 01, 2024 01:14 PM IST

Sanjay Manjrekar fired a warning to the Indian team to not pick Hardik as their fifth bowler and go a bit heavy on spin.

The T20 World Cup is around the corner, and Team India has yet to resolve its team combination, which has become a big headache for them now. They have to make big decisions on a couple of crucial positions including the opening slot with three strong contenders in Yashasvi Jaiswal, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli - the last two are certainties in the playing XI. However, the captain and coach have to decide where they want to play Kohli - as an opener or at number 3. Kohli has an incredible IPL as an opener, where he batted with positive intent and ended up as the leading run-getter.

Indian cricket team player Hardik Pandya during a training session for the T20 World Cup in New York.(PTI)
Indian cricket team player Hardik Pandya during a training session for the T20 World Cup in New York.(PTI)

Another major area of concern is their bowling combination. The Indian players have not played much cricket on US soil and will also play just one warm-up match before the Group stage. To extend their batting depth, India may include Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shivam Dube in the starting line-up, which might weaken their bowling attack. Hardik Pandya as the fifth bowling option and Dube's lack of bowling time in IPL will expose the chink in India's armoury for the mega ICC event. The lack of a part-time bowler in the line-up will make things worse for them.

Meanwhile, Pandya also had a tough time in the IPL 2024, where he struggled with the bat and had an average season with the ball. It was a forgettable season for the flamboyant all-rounder as he returned to Mumbai Indians after two years. He was also appointed the captain as the ownership group though the fans would welcome him with open arms but the sacking of Rohit Sharma as skipper made things worse for them. The fans across India tuned their back against Pandya as he was booed by the fans across the venues.

Things only went downhill for him in the IPL, as his team finished at the bottom of the points table with just four wins in 14 matches and was the first team to be eliminated from the playoffs race. He also struggled with the bat and scored just 216 runs in 14 matches but managed to regain his bowling form in the second half and claimed 11 wickets in IPL 2024.

There was speculation throughout the season that MI's dressing room was a divided house due to the change of guard. However, Pandya will now act as Rohit's deputy in the T20 World Cup 2024.

In a selected media interaction, former cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar replied to a Hindustan Times query and fired a warning to the Indian team to not pick Hardik as their fifth bowler and go a bit heavy on spin.

"Hardik Pandya can't be your fifth bowler. I think India must have the sixth bowler as Hardik Pandya because of the amount of bowling he has done and with fitness. So, I'd rather go a little heavy on spin because when you look at the seam quality of India, there's not much depth," Manrekar replied to a Hindustan Times query on Star Sports Press Room.

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The former cricketer suggested that things would have been completely different if India had Mohammed Shami in the line-up, but his injury has put them in a spot of bother and now have to rely on spinners to get the job done. Shami underwent a knee injury which ruled him out of the recently concluded IPL and upcoming T20 World Cup.

"If Mohammed Shami had been there then it would have completely changed the look of India's bowling attack. You have some good spinning options, so I rather go with an extra spinner," he added.

Rohit and Co. will play a warm-up match against Bangladesh on Saturday evening at the newly constructed Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York. The team management has the last chance to take a look at all the players at finalise their combination ahead of their first group stage clash against Ireland on June 5.

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