Updated May 3rd, 2024 at 14:06 IST

'Very rare in India': Sreesanth and Tom Moody pinpoint 'precious commodity' in India's T20 WC squad

Former India pacer S Sreesanth on Friday backed Hardik Pandya's selection in the T20 World Cup squad, saying the all-rounder's presence alongside Virat Kohli will make for a "great combination" when chasing tricky totals.

Sreesanth | Image:AP
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Former India pacer S Sreesanth on Friday backed Hardik Pandya's selection in the T20 World Cup squad, saying the all-rounder's presence alongside Virat Kohli will make for a "great combination" when chasing tricky totals.

The out-of-form Pandya's inclusion in the 15-member India squad raised eyebrows but the selectors went by his past record and his ability to quickly change the complexion of a game with both bat and ball.

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If his selection in the squad was not enough, many were surprised by his appointment as vice-captain for the ICC showpiece in the USA and the West Indies.

But Sreesanth, one of India's best outswing bowlers in the post-Kapil Dev era, supported the move.

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"We have seen what he can do on the field minus this year's IPL. The way he's been batting and the way he's been bowling, for the country, he even led the country in one series and we won," Sreesanth remarked during a discussion on Star Sports.

"It was asked to Rohit about that and he said sometimes I'm the captain and sometimes I'm not. But that doesn't change the team's aura and atmosphere.

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"So, it's one good thing that Hardik Pandya comes in and bats, especially when he's chasing and Virat is on the other side, I think the combination they create is great." Pandya's last appearance for India came during the ODI World Cup match against Bangladesh in October 2023.

He recovered from an ankle injury well in time ahead of the IPL 2024 and was named as the captain of five-time champions Mumbai Indians in place of Rohit Sharma -- a move that attracted a lot of criticism.

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Speaking about Pandya's bowling, Sreesanth said, "Hardik can take the new ball or the old ball, especially against Pakistan, but it's not only against Pakistan, we are going to play a lot of different teams.

"So, it's an opportunity for Hardik to forget what he's done in this IPL and maybe, you never know, there are a few matches left and he may just come up." Former Australia all-rounder Tom Moody also supported Pandya's selection in the Rohit-led team, saying he currently stands head and shoulders above other contenders.

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"Name me three other people who can do what Hardik Pandya is doing. That's the bottom line. That skill of being a genuine all-rounder who can bat in your top six and potentially bowl four overs for you is very rare in India at the moment," Moody said.

"Yes, there are a few others that play domestic cricket and are okay, but not in international cricket, which is of a different standard. So, I think he stands head and shoulders above anyone who is competing for that particular role.

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"I think (chief selector) Ajit Agarkar has recognised that that is the case and we have to give him a longer rope with regards to his recovery, with regards to his form, and everything else, because he is a very precious commodity in this country," Moody added.

The Aussie also said Shivam Dube should bowl a lot at training so that he is ready for the job when required during a match. Moody described his selection as a "smart move".

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"I'd be incredibly surprised if Dubey hasn't been doing his bowling workloads, which is basically, not bowling out in the middle in competition but bowling at practice and bowling in pre-games, getting his number of balls up per week to make sure that his body is conditioned to bowling.

"Even though he might not have to bowl in match situation, but he's got the bowling, so it's not like he hasn't bowled for two months and then suddenly called upon to bowl in a World Cup tournament.

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"So, he'll be up and ready physically for the opportunity. So, to me Shivam Dubey is a smart pick," Moody said. 

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Published May 3rd, 2024 at 13:28 IST