Virat Kohli reveals reasons behind not using Hardik Pandya as bowler in England ODIs

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As England made it a night to forget for India’s bowlers, one question that popped up on everyone’s mind watching Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow clubbing the India bowlers was Hardik Pandya’s absence as a bowler. Coming off a fine performance in the T20Is against England, including a match-altering 4/16 in the fourth match, it was expected that Hardik could be Kohli’s go-to man, especially when Stokes and Bairstow were pummelling the five Indian bowlers.

But there was no sign of Hardik the bowler having a go, even as three of the five bowlers went at over six an over. Hardik’s brother Krunal was the worst of the lot, being taken for 72 off six overs at a mind-blowing economy-rate of 12 an over. Hardik’s bowling could have been something India could have done with, given his knack of breaking partnerships, but Kohli never turned to him, the reason behind which the India captain revealed after the match.

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“We need to manage his body as well going forward. We need to understand where we need his skill sets with the ball along with his batting. We used him in the T20Is but it’s a bit of workload management as well. We want to ensure we have Hardik Pandya fit and strong, because he’s going to be an important part of the squad,” Kohli said about Hardik

It was in September of 2019 that Hardik underwent a back surgery, following which the all-rounder underwent intense rehab to be declared fit for the South Africa series at home in February before it was called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Even when cricket resumed and Hardik played for Mumbai Indians, his role was restricted to being a pure batsman. With a remodelled action, Hardik resumed bowling in international cricket during the ODI series against Australia last December before being used as a bowler in the England T20Is.

With the final of the World Test Championship awaiting, followed by the T20 World Cup around the year end, it is crucial for India to keep one of their most valuable players fit for big events such as these, and perhaps that is the logic behind Kohli and the rest of the Indian team management behind using Hardik the bowler sporadically and judiciously.

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