'Iyer is more than welcome but...': Hardik's red-hot take on injured star as India resume WC preparations with AUS ODIs

By, New Delhi
Mar 17, 2023 10:03 AM IST

Hardik Pandya will lead Virat Kohli-starrer Team India for the first time in a One Day International (ODI) on Friday. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Pandya opened up about Shreyas Iyer's back injury ahead of the 1st ODI.

Ooozing with confidence, Hardik Pandya had the answer to each and every question fired by reporters in the recently concluded press conference. The latest recruit of Team India's leadership group, all-rounder Pandya will resume captaincy in the limited-overs format when the hosts meet Steve Smith's Australia at the iconic Wankhede Stadium in the first of the three ODIs. For the white-ball maverick, leading a young Team India has become a routine task in the shortest format.

Pandya opened up about Shreyas Iyer's back injury ahead of the 1st ODI(PTI)
Pandya opened up about Shreyas Iyer's back injury ahead of the 1st ODI(PTI)

On Friday, Pandya will take his captaincy reign up a notch by leading the Virat Kohli-starrer side for the first time in a One Day International (ODI). India will miss all-format skipper Rohit Sharma as the veteran opener is unavailable for the 1st ODI due to family commitments. While Rohit will only miss the series opener, middle-order batter Shreyas Iyer is ruled out of the entire Australia ODIs due to a lower back injury.

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Pandya, who himself remained on the sidelines due to a back injury between 2019 and 2020, admitted that Iyer's absence will have an impact on Team India in the Australia series. However, Pandya was also quick to mention the fact that India will 'slowly start' looking after the replacement of the injured batter if the Mumbaiker ends up embracing a long spell on the sidelines.

"Obviously there is no timeline but we have to hope for the best. I have been in that situation where the back could be a problem. It is going to impact, obviously, we are going to miss him but we will have to slowly start finding solutions if he is not around (for a long time). If he is around, he is more than welcome but if he is not then there is a lot of time to think about it and see how we can go forward," Pandya told reporters on the eve of the 1st ODI between India and Australia.

No Bumrah, no problem for Pandya

The stand-in skipper also confirmed that India will have a new opening pair for the 1st ODI against Australia. Since Pandya's Indian side has been on the road without injured pacer Jasprit Bumrah for a long period of time, the star all-rounder is confident that the pace battery will continue delivering the goods in the absence of the senior fast bowler. Indian pacer Bumrah was earlier ruled out of the entire Australia series. The star fast bowler will also miss the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023.

"Jassi (Jasprit Bumrah) hasn't been around for quite some time now. The bowling group has been doing a decent job. They're all experienced now, the number of games they have played. Having Jassi makes a massive difference but to be very honest, we aren't much bothered because the guys who have taken the role of Jassi, I am quite confident they'll be doing very well. It gives us good confidence,” Pandya added.

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