India v Australia: ‘It’s unfair on him to miss out to Hardik Pandya,’ Sanjay Manjrekar feels India batsman was hard done by
The Indian cricket team included all-rounder Hardik Pandya for the first ODI against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground. This is Pandya’s first international match since September 2019 – he played the T20Is against West Indies at home before being sidelined with a back injury. However, despite recovering, Pandya has refrained from bowling and instead is being used primarily as a batsman, first in the IPL for Mumbai Indians and now for India.
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Former India batsman and renowned commentator Sanjay Manjrekar however believes that if India were to pick a player for their middle order based on his batting, Manish Pandey could have been a better option. With Pandya not bowling, Manjrekar felt it was a bit unfair of Pandey since the batsman was part of India’s setup when they last played ODI – in New Zealand.
“Hardik Pandya not bowling and playing as a pure batsman is a bit of a gamble. Let’s hope it works out. Jadeja was to be expected. I just make selections based on principles of having specialists but this is something that is understandable. That said, it’s unfair on Manish Pandey as a pure batsman to miss out to Hardik Pandya,” Manjrekar said during the pre-match show on India’s Playing XI.
Pandya’s inclusion comes on the basis of his performance in the IPL, where he played crucial knocks for MI down the order, including an unbeaten 37 in the first qualifier. Pandey on the other hand was extremely beneficial for Sunrisers Hyderabad, scoring 425 runs from 16 matches with three half-centuries, miles ahead of Pandya, who tallied 281 runs from 14 games.
India captain Virat Kohli, after losing the toss, stressed on the need to get off to a good start after being away from international cricket for 290 days.
“It’s important to start well as a team, we need to start strongly and set the momentum for the matches ahead. The preparations have been nice, we got some valuable time (on account of the quarantine). Mayank Agarwal will open - Manish Pandey, Shubman Gill, Shardul Thakur, Natarajan and Sanju Samson are the five players missing out,” Kohli said.