‘What Hardik Pandya brings at No 6, you cannot create overnight’ – Virat Kohli backs all-rounder ahead of Indo-Pak clash

‘What Hardik Pandya brings at No 6, you cannot create overnight’ – Virat Kohli backs all-rounder ahead of Indo-Pak clash

Hardik Pandya hasn't bowled a lot lately.

Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya
Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya. (Photo by Surjeet Yadav/Getty Images)

There has been a lot of hullabaloo over Hardik Pandya’s role in the Indian team for the T20 World Cup 2021. The all-rounder didn’t bowl a single over in the recently-concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021. He remained away from bowling duties during the warm-up fixtures. Hence, many reckon Pandya’s inability to bowl can hamper India’s combination. Many experts even excluded him from their first-choice playing XI.

However, Indian skipper Virat Kohli isn’t of the same opinion. Speaking to the media ahead of the highly anticipated clash against Pakistan, Kohli said Pandya’s value as a number six finisher cannot be underestimated. He also said the all-rounder’s condition is getting better with time and he should be able to bowl in a certain stage of the competition.

We have a couple of options to chip in: Virat Kohli

“[Hardik Pandya’s] physical condition is getting better in terms of being prepared to bowl at least two overs at a certain stage in this tournament. We strongly believe we can make the most of the opportunity at hand till he starts bowling,” the Indian skipper said.

“We have a couple of options to chip in for two overs or so. We are not bothered about that at all. What [Pandya] brings at No 6, you cannot create overnight and I was always in favour of backing him in Australia purely as a batter and how he took the game away from the opposition in full flow,” he added.

Kohli further asserted that Pandya, besides playing big shots in end overs, can also play substantial knocks in case of a top-order collapse. “In world cricket, it is very important to have a No 6 who is a specialist and can do the job. It is very important to have a player who can play impact innings. Even when the chips are down, he is someone who can play a long innings that way,” asserted the Indian skipper.

Meanwhile, India will meet arch-rivals Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on October 24. Although Kohli didn’t reveal the final playing XI, he reckoned the combination has been confirmed. “We have spoken about our combination. I am not going to reveal it right now. We have put in place a balanced team that covers all bases and we are very confident,” he said.