SPORTS

In­dia all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been rested for the Test se­ries against Sri Lanka, start­ing next week in Kolkata

DNA (Delhi) - - FRONT PAGE - G Kr­ish­nan guru.kr­ish­nan@dnain­dia.net

Mum­bai: The In­dian fans will be de­nied the plea­sure of watch­ing ris­ing all-rounder Hardik Pandya slam­ming the Sri Lankan bowlers for sixes in the three-Test se­ries. Or, his game-chang­ing spells of pace bowl­ing.

Hav­ing re­alised his dream of play­ing in Tests in Sri Lanka ear­lier this year and notch­ing up 50 in his maiden in­nings and a cen­tury (108) in his last, Pandya has been rested for the se­ries against the same op­po­nents start­ing on Novem­ber 16 in Kolkata and fol­lowed by Nag­pur (Nov 24-28) and Delhi (Dec 2-6).

BCCI, in its re­lease on Fri­day, said: “All-In­dia Se­nior Se­lec­tion Com­mit­tee in con­sul­ta­tion with the In­dian team man­age­ment has de­cided to rest all-rounder Hardik Pandya for the up­com­ing Paytm Test se­ries against Sri Lanka. Mr Pandya was named in the squad for the first two Tests.

“Con­sid­er­ing Mr Pandya’s heavy re­cent work­load, the de­ci­sion was made to negate any pos­si­bil­ity of a ma­jor in­jury con­cern. Mr Pandya will un­dergo a pe­riod of strength at con­di­tion­ing at the Na­tional Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.”

Since In­dia’s last tour of Sri Lanka in July-Au­gust, In­dia have played in five ODIs and as many T20 In­ter­na­tion­als in the space of about eight weeks, and Pandya has played in all of them, mak­ing im­mense con­tri­bu­tions with either the bat or the ball in In­dia win­ning all the lim­ite­dovers se­ries against Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

Cru­cial player

The idea is to pre­serve Pandya for greater chal­lenges that In­dia will face next year, start­ing with the tour of South Africa in Jan­uary. By rest­ing Pandya, in what would have been only his se­cond Test se­ries to keep him fresh for over­seas chal­lenges, shows how cru­cial he is in In­dia’s scheme of things.

In­dia’s bowl­ing coach Bharat Arun has of­ten spo­ken about mon­i­tor­ing the work­load of the bowlers not only in matches but also in the prac­tice ses­sions.

Pandya has been In­dia’s game changer with either bat or ball and has proved his met­tle in the short span that he has been with the In­dian team, some­thing that the na­tion has been search­ing for long. Be it his abil­ity to pro­vide the quick runs to force an early dec­la­ra­tion in Tests, or to get those im­por­tant runs in the mid­dle overs in ODIs, or the ca­pac­ity to bowl a full quota of 10 overs and pro­vid­ing cru­cial break­throughs with raw pace even on flat tracks, Pandya seems to have be­come in­dis­pens­able.

The 24-year-old Bar­oda all-rounder may not yet be of the cal­i­bre of Kapil Dev but he is pro­vid­ing what cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shas­tri ask of him. Time and again.

Fear­less crick­eter

Bar­oda Ranji Tro­phy coach Atul Bedade said that the faith Kohli and Shas­tri have in Pandya has been vi­tal for his rise in in­ter­na­tional cricket.

“Hardik is a fear­less crick­eter. He does not look at the rep­u­ta­tion of the op­po­si­tion. He has been a ter­rific run-get­ter in the shorter ver­sion and tak­ing that form into the longer for­mat has been the se­cret to his suc­cess. He is look­ing to im­prove day by day,” Bedade told DNA here on Fri­day.

Pandya’s ver­sa­til­ity has given the In­dian team many op­tions. Bedade, a former In­dia lim­ited-overs hard-hit­ting left-handed bats­man, said: “Hardik has shown that he can fit in any po­si­tion from No 4. Any cap­tain will bank on him, would love to put him in his squad. He is the sort of bats­man who will help the team in any cir­cum­stance.”

The 51-year-old Bedade who played in 11 ODIs in 1994, said that Hardik has ben­e­fit­ted from the good bunch of sup­port staff that the In­dian team has. “Ravi is a great mo­ti­va­tor, the Jam­ba­van of In­dian cricket. Hardik has ben­e­fit­ted a lot from this sup­port sys­tem,’ Bedade said.

Skip­per Kohli has al­ways spo­ken high about Pandya among his other trusted team-mates. The most re­cent ex­am­ple has been when Pandya told his cap­tain “mein daal doonga, aap ten­sion mat lo

(I will bowl, you don’t worry)” in the rain-af­fected third T20I against New Zealand four days ago is the kind of con­fi­dence that the cap­tain ex­pects from his team-mates.

And Pandya, who was struck on his hand in his fol­low through in that fi­nal over, de­liv­ered. “As a cap­tain, when you get that kind of con­fi­dence from your bowlers, you aren’t left with much to say,” Kohli had said af­ter the match.

Pandya’s abil­ity to gen­er­ate pace and bounce on flat tracks has made him stand apart, mak­ing Kohli play an ad­di­tional bats­man or an ex­tra bowler ac­cord­ing to the sit­u­a­tions.

An ad­e­quately-rested Pandya is im­por­tant to In­dia over­seas. Like Bedade said: “They will be a good op­por­tu­nity for him to prove on good sur­faces where the pitches will be quick and the weather will be dif­fer­ent.”

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