'People have already written him off': Gambhir explains how Hardik Pandya can make a comeback in India's T20I squad
Concerns around his fitness and lack of bowling led to Hardik Pandya missing the squad for the T20I series against New Zealand after the T20 World Cup. Unhappy with cricketing fraternity already writing him off, former Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir feels that the all-rounder can still make a comeback to the T20I squad if he can find his rhythm and start bowling regularly.
BCCI's chief selector Chetan Sharma had assured that Hardik would be bowling the T20 World Cup at the time if squad announcement, however the all-rounder played only as a batter in the Pakistan opener which left captain Virat Kohli with only five bowling choices. Although he did return as a bowler in the following matches, the fitness issue remained and thus began India's search for a new No.6.
Gambhir, in conversation with India Today, does believe that while the process is long, Hardik himself cannot be ruled out. Gambhir also added that replacement players should be given a longer rope so that the management can understand their capabilities.
"You want find a No.6 in one day. Nor will you find a replacement for it. And you cannot count out Hardik Pandya as well. People have already started writing him off, but if he keeps himself fit, does regular bowling, come back to form, he should definitely get a chance, he is still young. But with that if you give other players a chance as well, and give them a longer rope, only then will you understand their capability. If you keep changing players after every series you won't be able to find your best XI. There is replacement for every player in this country, given the amount of cricket we play in India, no one is invincible or indispensable. But players must be trusted with the role for a longer period to understand their capabilities," the ODI World Cup-winning player said.
India have meanwhile roped in Venkatesh Iyer, who was picked on the back of an impressive second leg of the 2021 Indian Premier league followed by decent outings in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament.
Although he is yet to bowl after the first two games of the series, which seemed a rather bizarre call given that the next T20 World Cup is just 12 months away, however Iyer scored 4 off 2 in the opener and 12 off 11 in the second.