Hardik Pandya’s stupendous batting in the white ball series has given him an extra option of a designated “finisher” but India skipper Virat Kohli is clear that the all-rounder needs to start bowling regularly in order to be considered for Test cricket. Pandya has had scored of 90 and 92 in the first and third ODIs respectively and a match-winning knock of 42 not out in 22 balls in the second T20I, which helped India to seal the T20 series, got him the Man of the series award. Asked if he would be tempted to keep Pandya back as a pure batting option for the upcoming four-Test series, Kohli answered in the negative. “Hardik couldn’t bowl and we knew he will not be able to bowl but we saw in the IPL the headspace that he has been. But Test cricket is a different challenge and we need him to bowl,” Kohli was clear about priorities.
“We have spoken about it. He is one guy who brings in a lot of balance for us in overseas conditions like South Africa, England. We were able to compete for longer periods of time and he adds a lot of balance in terms of his bowling.” Kohli believes Pandya is getting into the zone where he would like to perform in all formats of the game.
“He is definitely in a zone where he wants to perform for India in all three disciplines. That’s always been his ‘X-factor’. In white ball cricket, we found some one who can finish games consistently,” the skipper said. But according to him, even Pandya realises that he needs to get back to peak bowling form.