‘It’s about batting positions’: Gautam Gambhir explains why he ‘would go with Hardik Pandya’ over Manish Pandey in India’s ODI XI
India included all-rounder Hardik Pandya in their Playing XI against Australia in the first ODI in Sydney. This is Pandya’s first international game since September 2019 and coming off a productive IPL season, one would assume he is deserving of a place in India’s XI. However, it is interesting to note that Pandya is in the team primarily as a batsman since there exist doubts over his bowling. When you factor that in, the question comes to mind. Is he the perfect fit for India as a batsman at No. 6?
Former India batsman Gautam Gambhir has weighed in on whether Pandya deserves a place in the Playing XI, especially when a batsman of Manish Pandey’s calibre is kept out. Pandey scored over 400 runs for Sunrisers Hyderabad in comparison to Pandya’s 274 for MI, and given that Pandey was part of India’s XI when they last played an ODI in New Zealand, one would assume that the Karnataka batsman was hard done by.
“I think it’s more to do with the form he showed in the IPL because if you see, he was batting at No. 6 and Manish Pandey at No. 3,” Gambhir said in a video posted by ESPNCricinfo.
“So, if you push Pandey and No. 6, you drop someone who’s already been batting at that position and has shown a lot of form in the IPL, it probably makes no sense. It’s a valid question whether he fits in the 50-over format as a batter. But again, I think his current form has given him the nod of playing at No. 6.”
Gambhir reckons Pandya also deserves to be picked over Pandey due to the position. No. 6 are designed for big-hitters and finishers, and Pandey being more of a conventional middle order batsman, he is in direct competition with the likes of Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul.
“It’s about positions as well. If Shreyas Iyer is not doing well, you can push someone like Manish Pandey at No. 4. But between Pandey at No.6 and Pandya at No. 6, I will go with Hardik Pandya,” Gambhir explained.
Meanwhile, Steve Smith and Aaron Finch smashed tons each as Australia posted their highest total against India - 374/6 in 50 overs.