Since the next match is against the Netherlands on Thursday, India can afford to rest Pandya, if need be, and may try out Deepak Hooda, who can bat at any position and also bowl fast off-breaks inside the powerplay overs.
But, there are no conclusive indications that Pandya may miss a World Cup match even if it’s against a weaker side like the Netherlands.
The entire bowling unit (save R Ashwin), along with all-rounder Pandya, were given complete rest. With no training on the eve of the game, the fast bowlers will return fresh for the next game.
In case of Pandya, his workload in the previous game — against Pakistan — was maximum and he did suffer from cramps towards the end of the Indian run chase.
The reason (of Pandya’s cramps) is believed to be the overall dimensions of the MCG where a lot of drives don’t travel to the boundary and while batters need to sprint for that extra run, fielders are covering extra yards in the deep.
Not to forget, Hardik bowled four overs at an average speed of close to 140 clicks since Axar Patel flopped badly.
There is no other player who is more important than Pandya when it comes to the balance of the side and the team management does keep him wrapped in cotton wool, knowing that he is the team’s x-factor in big games.
While leaving the mixed zone, Pandya was asked if his cramps were serious.
“No, I don’t think so. It might be because I have never run so many twos in a T20 International,” he had replied.
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India might have won one of the most thrilling as well as emotionally exhausting T20I games in World Cup history against Pakistan but there was no let-up in intensity as Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant, Deepak Hooda were all back at the SCG nets for a solid two-hour session.
The biggest complaint against Rahul is that he never scores big when the occasion demands.
He has failed against Pakistan in three of the last four games even as he had some sizzling knocks in bilateral series games against Australia and South Africa.
The bowlers have now decoded that an “imaginary fourth off-stump” line to Rahul at a good pace can yield result.
At the start of the innings, a delivery on the channel or with a hint of inward movement off the track catches him off guard as he has either been played or adjudged leg before.
In fact, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur and Harshal Patel were continuously told to bowl outside the off-stump.
Rahul didn’t look too comfortable on one occasion as he was forced to close the face of his bat. Had it been a match situation, it would have kept the point fielder interested.
When Yuzvendra Chahal bowled, Rahul tried to rock back and pull a few towards mid-wicket against the turn.