As India gears up for the ICC World Cup 2023, captain Rohit Sharma has underscored the pivotal role of Hardik Pandya in shaping the team’s balance and strategy. Sharma believes that Pandya’s versatility as an all-rounder gives India the luxury of playing three spinners, a strategy they might employ in their World Cup opener against Australia in Chennai on October 8.
Rohit Sharma indirectly confirmed the inclusion of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in the playing XI, alongside wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav and spin all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, owing to the presence of Pandya. Pandya’s all-round abilities make him the linchpin in India’s plan, allowing them to field an extra spinner while leaving out the third specialist pacer, a decision they may make on turning pitches like Chepauk.
Speaking to the press ahead of India’s World Cup opener, Rohit Sharma emphasized the significance of Pandya in maintaining a balanced playing XI that can adapt to varying pitch conditions. On tracks that favor seam or offer assistance to spinners, India can opt for Shardul Thakur’s batting prowess at No. 8 or bring in Mohammad Shami as the third pacer.
Rohit Sharma stated, “Yeah, I mean that’s the luxury we have where we can afford to play three spinners because I don’t really consider Hardik Pandya as just a seamer. He (Hardik) is a proper fast bowler, who can crank up good speed. So, that gives us an advantage. That gives us that luxury of playing three spinners and three seamers as well. So, there’s a possibility of that.”
Ashwin’s presence at No. 8 on surfaces like Chennai, where the scores tend to be lower, bolsters India’s batting lineup and grants the top seven more freedom to express themselves without concerns about the tail.
Rohit Sharma emphasized that India aims to field the best possible eleven but will adapt based on pitch conditions. “We definitely want to be a team where we want to play the best 11, but you can pick your best 11 based on the conditions that you have in front of you. Where there is a bit of assistance to the slower bowlers, you need to bring in those slower bowlers.”
India’s strategy in the upcoming World Cup will involve flexibility and adaptability, with the core of the team remaining consistent, while minor adjustments will be made based on pitch conditions to maximize their chances of success.