Hardik Pandya, the fast-bowling all-rounder and India’s vice-captain, will not be traveling with the team to Dharamshala ahead of Sunday’s clash against New Zealand due to a left ankle injury, said the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Friday.
On Thursday, Pandya limped off the field after injuring his left ankle while fielding on his own bowling during India’s fourth league match of the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup, against Bangladesh at MCA Stadium in Pune, and did not participate in the rest of the match.
As a result, he will now miss India’s clash against New Zealand at HPCA Stadium in Dharamshala on Sunday. “The all-rounder was taken for scans and is advised rest. He will be under the constant supervision of the BCCI Medical Team,” said the BCCI in a medical update.
It added that Pandya will join the India team directly in Lucknow for the match against defending champions England on October 29. At Pune, while trying to stop a boundary hit by Litton Das on third ball of the ninth over, Pandya seemed to twist his left ankle in his follow-through after slipping in the process of saving the four.
The Indian team physio ran out immediately to attend Hardik on his left ankle for several minutes, with Virat Kohli and captain Rohit Sharma by his side. After some time, the all-rounder tried to continue bowling, but couldn’t do so due to too much pain in his strapped left ankle and walked off for getting further treatment.
In his absence, Virat Kohli bowled the three remaining deliveries in the over, with the BCCI later saying that time Pandya was taken for scans. Pandya has been a vital cog in the wheel for India in white-ball cricket and is irreplaceable due to his all-round skills – batting in top six and being the third fast-bowling option in the team.
Though he batted only once, making an unbeaten 11 in India’s opening tournament win over Australia in Chennai, Pandya had picked five wickets till the ankle injury came in. With him now missing the match against New Zealand, India need to see how they cover up for the skills he brings to the table.
They have a fast-bowling all-round option in Shardul Thakur, but he is not close to being called a like-for-like replacement for Pandya. An option can be that Thakur plays the role of Pandya with both bat and ball or bring in a specialist batter in his absence while operate with only five bowlers in their bowling innings. Another option that India could look at is to bring in a specialist batter and bowler respectively while leaving out Thakur.
With four wins in as many matches, hosts India are one of two teams to be still unbeaten in the ongoing Men’s ODI World Cup. The two-time champions will next face New Zealand, who are the only other unbeaten side in the competition.