Hardik Pandya's T20 World Cup fate discussed in Rohit Sharma, Rahul Dravid, Ajit Agarkar's 2-hour-long meeting: Report | Crickit
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Hardik Pandya's T20 World Cup fate discussed in Rohit Sharma, Rahul Dravid, Ajit Agarkar's 2-hour-long meeting: Report

Apr 16, 2024 01:11 PM IST

Hardik Pandya's place in India's T20 World Cup squad was reportedly discussed by Rohit Sharma, Rahul Dravid and Ajit Agarkar in a two-hour-long meeting

India captain Rohit Sharma, head coach Rahul Dravid and chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar met in Mumbai last week to discuss India's T20 World Cup squad, reported The Indian Express. The main agenda for the two-hour-long meeting in the middle of IPL 2024 was Hardik Pandya's place in the World Cup squad. There is still some time before the selectors pick India's final 15 for the world event slated to take place in USA and West Indies right after the 17th edition of the IPL finishes but the Indian team management is concerned about Hardik's bowling fitness.

Mumbai Indians' captain Hardik Pandya(AFP)
Mumbai Indians' captain Hardik Pandya(AFP)

The Mumbai Indians captain, under immense pressure both on and off the field, has been below-par in this season's IPL so far. Hardik Pandya has scored just 131 runs in 6 matches. Barring that one whirlwind innings against RCB where he scored 21* off just 6 balls, there have been questions over his approach in the middle overs, where he has failed to score at a desired strike rate.

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Rohit, Dravid and Agarkar's concerns, however, are more about his bowling. Many in the current Indian set-up can perform Pandya's role as a batter in T20s but not many can do that while assuring four overs as the third seamer of the side. That is where Pandya is unique and adds balance to the XI.

But he has been horribly off-colour with the ball this season. He has lacked consistency and clarity. Moreover, Pandya has bowled his full quota only twice - In MI's first two matches against Gujarat Titans and Sunrisers Hyderabad - in six matches so far. He didn't bowl a single over against Delhi Capitals and Rajasthan Royals. He once again got the ball in his hand against the Royal Challengers Bengaluru but for only one over. In MI's last match against Chennai Super Kings, Pandya bowled three overs but was smashed for three back-to-back sixes by MS Dhoni in the last over.

Also Read | Hardik Pandya lacks clarity in batting, is inconsistent and expensive as bowler in IPL 2024

In the 11 overs that Pandya has bowled in IPL 2024, he has picked up only three wickets and leaked runs at 12 runs an over. While there doesn't seem to be any fitness-related issue with his bowling, his form remains a concern.

According to the report, the selectors will only consider Pandya for the T20 World Cup, if he bowls well regularly in the IPL. With an extra bowler always at his disposal in the IPL due to the Impact Player rule, it can be a bit too much to expect four overs from Pandya every match.

Who can replace Hardik Pandya in India's T20 World Cup squad?

What are the options for India if they, in a hypothetical world, do take the bold call of not picking Pandya for the T20 World Cup? The obvious choice is Shivam Dube. He has done enough with the bat to warrant a place in India's T20 World Cup side. He is a left-hander and can give the much-needed impetus to innings in the middle-overs with his big hits.

But can he do the job with the ball? Dube has not bowled a single ball in this IPL. He has been used as an Impact Player for his batting by CSK.

The other names that can be thrown into the mix are Vijay Shankar and Venkatesh Iyer. The former has fallen way behind in the pecking order and Iyer's problem is similar to that of Dube's. KKR have too many bowling options and the captain has not felt the need to fall back to Iyer.

Logically, there shouldn't be much of a threat to Pandya's place in the T20 World Cup but there are indications that the selectors and the team management are worried about his bowling and fitness. It is high time, he turns things around in the IPL, for MI and for himself.

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