INDIA TOUR OF WEST INDIES
The third seamer or the fourth seamer dilemma © Getty
In what will come as music to the ears of India selectors, all-rounder Hardik Pandya has reckoned he can now bowl his entire quota of four overs in the T20I side and operate as the third or fourth seamer. India’s T20I side make-up has been such that they’ve predominantly gone in with just five bowling options, including Hardik as none of the first choice top-five batters can bowl. Hardik has sometimes been used as an additional bowler who can chip in with a couple of overs if needed, but believes he is now capable of doing more.
“Yes, I used to bowl before. I used to be a filler in between when someone is not bowling well. I can probably say I can bowl four overs now as a third seamer or a fourth seamer where I can contribute equally as I do with the bat,” Hardik said after India’s win over West Indies in the 3rd T20I that gave them a 2-1 series lead.
Since suffering a back injury in the last edition of the Asia Cup in 2018, Hardik has needed his workload to be managed, especially with respect to his bowling. He has taken his time to return to full tilt but has done it convincingly, starting with this year’s IPL where he bowled a few tough PowerPlay overs for champions Gujarat Titans.
“Obviously, I’ve enjoyed bowling,” Hardik said. “Again I’ve mentioned multiple times, that was the reason I felt I should take some time off to make sure my bowling comes off because I’ve realised when I bowl, it gives a lot of balance to the side; it gives a lot of confidence to the captain.
On Tuesday, Hardik bowled an exceptional spell of 1 for 19 in four overs, earning India the first breakthrough in the game with the wicket of Brandon King in his first over. His next three through the middle-overs went a long way in helping India tie down the hosts as his variations were tough to put away for the West Indies batters. When Hardik finished his spell that included 10 dots, West Indies were at 77 for 1 in 12 overs and needed some late-order flourish to get to their eventual total of 164 for 5, which proved insufficient on the day.