The key, however, was Hardik pandya send seven overs on average to less than six points per over in each game. His impact as an all-rounder was such that he was knocked out by Bumrah as the most valuable asset when it comes to workload management.
The Indian camp has made it clear that the 50-over format is nothing more than an obligation at this time. But when Virat Kohli leading his team to Pune for the decisive ODI against England on Sunday, the embarrassing prospect of a third straight ODI Series loss will cross your mind. This is where they need to take a call about Hardik’s availability as a crimper and whether they’re willing to risk another series by citing future projects.
Photo by Reuters
The lack of a sixth bowler has hurt India in the last three ODI series. Hardik’s position as No. 6 batsman is unmistakable but less his bowling disturbs the balance of the ODI team.
Since Hardik’s return from major back surgery, he has played 22 games over four months and 13 international games. 18 of them have come in five T20Is against England this month. And the management of the Indian team has decided to signal its role as an average pacemaker. Captain Virat Kohli has announced that the team feared burning Hardik in a year that has a testing world championship final, five tests in England and a T20 World Cup.
The Indian cricket setup boasts of robust workload management based on the tiniest data. The depth of resources also allows the system to achieve this without too much habitation. But it also raises the question of whether the player concerned is factored into the decision ahead of a crucial game.
Former Indian coach Ashish Nehra, an example of career injuries, told TOI: “I know there is a competent support staff. But the player involved also needs to understand his body. If bowling just 18 overs in five games becomes confusing for Hardik then I can understand that decision. If Hardik isn’t complaining about anything, he could be played for four-five overs.
With teams happy to see Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar up the sleeves, the pressure falls squarely on the spinners unlike the days before the World Cup. An effective fifth-sixth bowling option is not negotiable here.
“If Hardik is going to play like a batter, then he has to beat higher to accommodate a sixth bowler. Krunal Pandya cannot be your fifth bowler. Kuldeep hasn’t played much and then there’s always an inexperienced partner with Bhuvneshwar or Bumrah, ”Nehra said.
India has been sidelined from its big picture in the past three ODI rounds. The lack of wickets with the new ball literally made the spinners ineffective. Perhaps the inclusion of Ravindra Jadeja can help them settle down. But it’s pretty clear that the backup plan, in the event that top-tier players are unavailable, has not taken shape.
Sunday’s result might not matter much in terms of numbers, but a little confidence in the future won’t hurt.