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What if Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul had played the ODI series?

Hardik and Rahul were a part of the team but were flown back home midway.

KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya
KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

It wasn’t the most pleasing of sights to see two young Indian cricketers be sent back home midway through a tour. Both KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya paid a hefty price for their loose-tongued comments on the talk show Koffee with Karan. It has had such an impact that their career is now in doldrums as the Supreme Court will hear the case which has been adjourned to the next week.

But, the question that arises now is what if this duo was a part of the ODI squad. How would it have affected the combinations and the line-up that they fielded? Interestingly, only Hardik’s replacement was named for the series against Australia. Vijay Shankar, who made his debut in the third ODI, looked in decent rhythm with the ball and his services with the bat weren’t required. But, how much of a difference could they make if they played the ODI series?

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Here is an analysis of the difference Hardik and Rahul would have made with their presence

KL Rahul

KL Rahul
KL Rahul. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

KL Rahul has featured in a total of 13 ODI games for India till date. He has scored 317 runs at an average of 35 and strike rate of 81. He was juggled in the batting order on quite a few instances and thus these are decent numbers for the 26-year-old. But in 2018, he only got to play three games for the team.

While he played two matches in England, Rahul represented took the field against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup. In the United Kingdom, he bagged one duck and was unbeaten on 9 on the other instance. But, in the Asia Cup, he had the opportunity to open the innings and scored 60 runs at a strike rate of 91.

Rahul’s presence, looking at his overall career stats and the stats from 2018 might not have made a huge difference to the team. The management was quite happy to play the series without a replacement for him. This is because he doesn’t fit into the eleven really well. The Karnataka batsman is predominantly an opener. He only scored 33 runs in four innings at an average of 11 batting at No.4 and 5.

With players like Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav and even Rishabh Pant already fighting for these spots, there doesn’t seem to be any way for Rahul to fit in there. The other option left is to open the innings. But, the team doesn’t need to look beyond Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan for these slots.

Giving these two players enough match time is of utmost priority at the moment. Since the management was focussed on trying out all the combinations, Rahul at the most might have got an opportunity to open in the third ODI instead of Dhawan.

Verdict: Not much of a difference looking at the current combinations of the team.

Hardik Pandya

Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Hardik Pandya, after injuring himself in the Asia Cup, was out action for about three months. The all-rounder worked extremely hard on his fitness since then to make a comeback into the team. But, all his hard work went in vain because of the talk show he attended during the break.

The 25-year-old, over the last two years, evolved into one of the most important members of the team. He has scored 670 runs in 42 ODIs till date and picked up 40 wickets. Hardik adds great stability to the side given he is equally capable with both bat as well as the ball. Jadeja, who replaced him, only managed to pick two wickets and score 8 runs in three matches, he got to bat only once.

Hardik’s presence might have given the management an opportunity to play both Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami. Also, ahead of the World Cup, he’d have got an opportunity to revive himself, especially after the disastrous 2018. Pandya played 10 games last year and scored 68 runs and picked up just 5 wickets.

Since he is someone who bends his back and enjoys the bounce, he could have found some success with the ball. Moreover, he might have complemented Rohit Sharma much better in the first ODI and thus the team could’ve taken the game much closer. As Dhawan said in one of the press conferences, the all-rounder was clearly missed.

Verdict: Hardik Pandya was missed by the team and he would’ve played all the three games of the series.

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