Virender Sehwag minced no words while expressing disappointment over Virat Kohli’s decision not to bowl Hardik Pandya in the second ODI against England in Pune on Saturday, which the hosts lost by six wickets.
Despite piling a gigantic 336/6 on the board, the pair of Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes made mockery of the stiff run chase as tourists wrapped up the proceedings inside 44 overs. Bairstow notched up his 11th ODI ton during the run-chase, while his partner Stokes fell short by a run from completing a well deserved century.
However, what came as a surprise for many was Kohli’s decision not to use Hardik in the bowling department and sticking with spin despite Kuldeep Yadav and Krunal Pandya leaking runs from both ends.
On being asked about the reason behind not utilising Hardik in the bowling department, Kohli said: “We need to manage his (Hardik) body. Need to understand where we need this skill set. Did utilize him in the T20Is but in the ODIs, it’s about managing his workload. We have Test cricket in England coming up too. So it’s important for us to have him fit.”
Sehwag, however, felt that the explanation by Kohli was not justified and felt that Hardik could have rolled his arms for a few overs being a wicket-taker bowler.
“We only have the IPL next. So you are saying that we have no problem losing the ODI series because we had to manage Hardik Pandya’s workload. If his workload doesn’t include 4-5 overs then it’s wrong. But it also shouldn’t be the case that he isn’t bowling even a single over. Fielding for 50 overs also causes fatigue. So if he adds 4-5 overs to it, it shouldn’t make a huge difference on his workload.”
“I don’t know who decides that Hardik Pandya’s workload has become excessive. Since he has come back from his [back] surgery, he hasn’t played much cricket. He sat out in the Tests, played the 5 T20Is, and bowled in 2-3 of those… so he hasn’t taken any load yet. But yes, this is a possibility that he himself might have asked for a break from bowling in the ODIs to prevent any injuries before the IPL,” Sehwag was as quoted by Cricbuzz.
Meanwhile, Hardik, had earlier confirmed that he will be bowling in the limited-over series.”It’s been almost one and half months since I have been preparing in this format – it’s going to be important with the World T20 coming up. You will see me bowling in this series. The kind of depth we have now, we can express ourselves pretty well, I have always played situations in my life – will do whatever the team requires, but think I can play freely. It’s going to be a cracker of a series with the kind of depth they have. But T20 is such a format where things can change any time in the match,” Hardik said ahead of the first T20I against England in Ahmedabad.
This is not the first time Sehwag has not agreed with Kohli on cricketing equations. After the conclusion of the 1st T20I in Ahmedabad, the former India opener had questioned Kohli’s decision to leave out Rohit Sharma from the playing XI.
“Virat Kohli said that Rohit Sharma will not play a couple of matches, but if India keep losing games will the team still stick with the same stratergy. A defeat brings in a lot of changes in a team, if I would have been the captain then I would have fielded the best playing XI,” Sehwag said during a virtual interaction on Cricbuzz live.