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Rahul Dravid says Hardik Pandya’s absence won’t hurt India in World Cup | Cricket


Rahul Dravid says Hardik Pandya’s absence won’t hurt India in World Cup | Cricket


Hardik Pandya has been ruled out of the rest of the World Cup due to an ankle injury sustained during the seven-wicket win against Bangladesh in Pune last month but India head coach Rahul Dravid doesn’t feel it’s going to affect India’s campaign.

India's Hardik Pandya attempts to stop the ball during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 match between India and Bangladesh(PTI)
India’s Hardik Pandya attempts to stop the ball during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 match between India and Bangladesh(PTI)

“Obviously, the sixth option is something that Hardik gave us. But we have been playing the last four games without the sixth bowling option,” said Dravid ahead of India’s match against South Africa here on Sunday.

“We also played a couple of games in the Australia series before the World Cup without the sixth option. We won two of our games, in Mohali and Indore, when we played only with five bowling options.

“So, we have responded really well to that challenge. Yes, of course, we probably won’t have that sixth bowling option in these games. But the response of the team and the players has been really good when we have not had it. I think we have played enough games without having it.”

Pandya injured his left ankle trying to stop a shot on his bowling follow through. It was subsequently diagnosed as a ligament tear. The India vice-captain missed the matches against England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka before BCCI’s medical team at Bengaluru’s National Cricket Academy — he is undergoing rehabilitation there — ruled him out for the remainder of the tournament.

Fast bowler Prasidh Krishna, who too has returned from a long layoff due to a stress fracture of the back, has replaced the all-rounder.

“Tough to digest the fact that I will miss out on the remaining part of the World Cup,” Pandya posted on messaging platform X (formerly Twitter). “I’ll be with the team, in spirit, cheering them on every ball of every game. Thanks for all the wishes, the love, and the support has been incredible. This team is special and I’m sure we’ll make everyone proud.”

Pandya batted only once in the World Cup, during the six-wicket win over Australia in Chennai, where he came in at No 6. Overall, only thrice in seven games has the lower order been called in to bat, two of which were while batting first in matches India won by massive margins — 100 runs against England and 302 runs against Sri Lanka. Once Pandya was injured, India dropped Shardul Thakur and opted for a more rigid lineup comprising six specialist batters, an all-rounder in Ravindra Jadeja, and four specialist bowlers.

Suryakumar Yadav got another chance at cementing his place but scores of 2, 49 and 12 haven’t really justified his white-ball potential. But that has been the only glitch – if at all it can be called that — in an otherwise smooth campaign for India.

Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma aggregate more than 400 runs and average well over 50 with Shubman Gill — he missed the first two matches due to dengue — looking imperious as well. Pandya has batted as high as No. 4 in the past but with KL Rahul averaging 79 and even Shreyas Iyer starting to get going, his absence barely been felt.

His injury led to the inclusion of Mohammed Shami, who has stormed the World Cup by picking up 14 wickets in 22 overs at an average of 6.71 and economy of 4.27. With Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj operating with the new ball and Shami coming in first change with a slightly older ball, India’s fast bowling has found a new direction and looks more incisive. Proof of that came in the last match where Shami took five and the pacers collectively accounted for nine wickets in the demolition of Sri Lanka at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.


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