Vijay Shankar not a viable replacement for Pandya: Gautam Gambhir
Former opener Gautam Gambhir believes the Indian team will continue facing the snag with team combination if all-rounder Hardik Pandya doesn't bowl. According to him, the half-fit Pandya closes the doors for a sixth bowling option in the team. Talking about his replacement, Gambhir said Vijay Shankar is the closest replacement for the all-rounder, however, he is not as impactful. Here is more.
Where is the sixth bowling option? Gambhir asks
Gambhir spoke on the incumbent equation. "This has been happening since the last WC. If Hardik is not fit (to bowl), where is your sixth bowling option," Gambhir told ESPNcricinfo. "It's only Vijay Shankar that I can think of but does he have the same impact batting at No. 5 or 6? Can he give you 7-8 overs,? I have my doubts."
Pandya hasn't bowled since recovering from injury
Since his debut, Pandya has been Team India's sixth bowling option in white-ball cricket. However, he hasn't been bowling after recovering from his lower-back injury. Even in the first ODI agains Australia, he was not available with the ball. While Yuzvendra Chahal conceded 89 runs, the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, and Ravindra Jadeja were hit for 73, 83, and 63 runs respectively.
Pandya, the batsman disrupts the team combination
If Pandya plays as a pure batsman, it disrupts the team combination big-time. None of the batsmen in top-five are capable of providing some extra overs, which leaves Ravindra Jadeja as the only all-rounder. The likes of Chahal, Bumrah, Shami among others are pure bowlers.
'The problem will arise even if Rohit returns to XI'
Gambhir said the problem won't be solved even if senior player Rohit Sharma returns back. "You can talk (about) putting in Manish Pandey, even if and when Rohit Sharma comes back in the XI, the problem you are facing now you will be facing then. There is no one in the top six who can actually give you a coupe of overs," he concluded.
Team India in a spot of bother
Team India is certainly in a spot of bother, with Pandya being the only pace-bowling all-rounder. The other batsmen on the bench are Pandey and Sanju Samson. Both of them don't bowl. All-rounder Vijay Shankar, who played as India's number four in the 2019 WC, hasn't been in the scheme of things. It will be interesting to see how skipper Kohli addresses the issue.