Reports: Hardik Pandya dropped for New Zealand series, selectors don't see merit in him as pure batter

Reports: Hardik Pandya dropped for New Zealand series, selectors don’t see merit in him as pure batter

Hardik Pandya not bowling was a huge concern for India during the T20 World Cup.

Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya. (Photo Source: Twitter/BCCI)

India all-rounder Hardik Pandya and his fitness has been a topic of discussion for the last month or so. Hardik not bowling during the second leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) was one of the talking points and he remained under-cooked in that aspect even in the T20 World Cup for crucial matches. Team India management backed him to make an impact as a pure batter but that clearly hindered the balance of the side.

India went with only five bowlers against Pakistan and ended up conceding a 10-wicket defeat. Situation was somewhat similar against New Zealand. Not that Hardik Pandya set the stage on fire with the bat. His struggles were visible with the bat and despite a power-packed 13-ball 35 later in the tournament, questions were raised on his place in the side with him not bowling anymore.

Hardik’s name went missing from India’s T20I squad for the three-match series against New Zealand and many reckoned that fitness was the reason for the same. However, according to a report in Times of India, he has been dropped as selectors don’t see merit in him to play as a pure batter.

They have now shifted their focus on grooming the batters who can bowl in white-ball cricket, one aspect the team has been lacking and were hurt by the lack of options during 2019 World Cup as well.

Venkatesh Iyer likely to be groomed

Madhya Pradesh all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer was no less than a sensation during the second leg of the IPL 2021. He opened the innings for Kolkata Knight Riders and most importantly, bowled a few overs with his medium pace whenever required. This is exactly why the all-rounder has been picked ahead of everyone for the New Zealand series.

He is predominantly a top-order batter in T20 cricket but the management might groom him to finish the innings and bat in the middle-order just like how Hardik Pandya used to do when fully fit. With the next T20 World Cup only 11 months away and in Australia, India will need a player like Iyer who can bat in top six and also bowl a few overs, which Hardik couldn’t do due to fitness concerns.