As stand-in captain for the first ODI match against Australia, Hardik Pandya has confidence in the Indian pace attack’s ability despite the absence of star pacer Jasprit Bumrah.
The India-Australia ODI series commences on March 17 in Mumbai, with India also missing their regular captain Rohit Sharma for the opening game. However, Sharma is expected to return for the last two matches.
In the meantime, Hardik Pandya will lead the team in the first ODI at Wankhede Stadium. Bumrah has been sidelined since September 2022 due to a back injury, which caused him to miss the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia.
Although he completed his rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru and has been practicing in the nets, the BCCI is opting not to rush him back.
In addition to Bumrah, India is also dealing with an injury to Shreyas Iyer, who is ruled out of the upcoming series and the subsequent IPL season due to a recurring lower-back injury.
“Jasprit hasn’t been around for quite some now. In the bowling group, we have been doing a decent job. They’re all experienced now….the number of games they have played. Having Jassi makes a massive difference but to be very honest, we aren’t much bothered because the guys who have taken the role of Jassi, I am quite confident they’ll be doing very well. It gives us good confidence,” Hardik Pandya said in the pre-match press conference on Thursday.
“Ishan (Kishan) and Shubman (Gill) will be opening,” confirmed Pandya.
The Indian team will have to cope without Iyer, the crucial middle-order batter, who has been their preferred number four option in recent months.
In light of Rohit Sharma’s absence from the first match, the Men in Blue must identify a suitable replacement to open the batting order alongside Shubman Gill.
During the New Zealand ODIs, which Iyer also missed due to his injury, Kishan was given a chance but only managed to score 30 runs in three attempts.
Another option is Suryakumar Yadav, who has score only 49 runs in three innings this year. Though his ODI average is a modest 28.86, India may consider selecting him based on his impressive T20I performance.
As a regular number four in T20Is, India stands to gain if Suryakumar brings the same level of aggression to his ODI game.