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T20 WC 2024: Does Hardik Pandya warrant a place in India's squad?

Updated: May 4

ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024: Will Hardik Pandya be in India's T20 World Cup 2024 squad or not? Reasons why Hardik Pandya can miss the T20 World Cup bus.


India vs Ireland, T20Is 2022_ Hardik Pandya to captain team India in scheduled two T20I against Ireland _ Walking Wicket (Images ©BCCI_Twitter)
Hardik Pandya last played for India was in ODI WC (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

Since taking over the captaincy role at Mumbai Indians (MI) from five-time champion captain Rohit Sharma, flamboyant all-rounder Hardik Pandya has faced immense scrutiny due to his underwhelming performances. He hasn't played much cricket coming into the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 because of an ankle injury sustained during the clash against Bangladesh in the 2023 ODI World Cup. Pandya's form has noticeably declined, leading to discussions about his inclusion in India's T20 World Cup 2024 squad.


Plagued performances in IPL 2024

One of the glaring issues plaguing Pandya is his lack of contributions with the bat. Pandya’s numbers have been disappointing, particularly as a finisher. He has scored only 151 runs in eight matches at an average of 21.57 and a strike rate of 142.45 in the IPL. 


He failed to score runs, and wasn't able to make impactful contributions in the death overs. His boundary-per-ball ratio is notably high, indicating a struggle to convert starts into substantial scores. This inability to finish games was evident in critical moments, where Pandya fell short of guiding his team to victory.



Batting woes - under par strike rate and ineffectiveness against spin 

Despite being the captain of Mumbai, the 30-year-old has not settled into a specific batting position. He has batted from number four to number seven in the ongoing season of the IPL. Notably, on many occasions where the team needed him to accelerate at a strike rate of 200+, he ended up scoring runs at a strike rate of 120. 


His innings against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium is the perfect example of his struggle. He managed to score only 24 off 20 balls when every other batter was smashing at 180+ strike rates in a mammoth run chase of 277. This inconsistency in adapting to different batting scenarios and smashing boundaries at regular intervals is a concern, especially for a player of his caliber.


Additionally, Pandya's performance against spinners has significantly declined since 2020, with a strike rate of 126.48 in the last 5 years. With other players like Rinku Singh, Ravindra Jadeja and Shivam Dube excelling in finishing roles and showcasing better form, Pandya's dismal performances against spinners raise doubts about his effectiveness in the middle overs.



IPL 2024_ Hardik Pandya booed by the cricket fans across the grounds due to his move from Gujarat Titans to Mumbai Indians _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_IPLT20)
Pandya has only taken 4 wickets at an ave of 46 in IPL 2024 (Images: ©BCCI/IPLT20)
Bowling woes - leaking runs with no breakthroughs  

Turning to his bowling, following his return from injury during the ODI World Cup 2023, Hardik Pandya has bowled a mere 17 overs in 8 IPL matches, averaging just 2 overs per game. His economy rate of 10.94 and only 4 wickets highlight his struggles on the bowling front. 


In the Indian setup, Pandya's role as a third or fourth seamer is crucial for providing balance and allowing the captain to opt for an extra spinner. However, his inconsistency with the ball raises legitimate concerns about his selection based on current form.


Before this season, the right-hand medium pacer used to share the new ball with Gujarat Titans pace spearhead Mohammed Shami. However, he hasn't been able to fulfill that role as well. He tried to bring himself into the attack in the death overs, but then MS Dhoni's brisk 20 off five balls in the final over at Wankhede Stadium gave him the reality check. He even failed to stop the flow of runs in the middle overs as well. Many times so far in the cash-rich league, it has been seen that he didn't even bowl as per field setting. 


The case for a like-for-like replacement 

In such a situation, the emergence of Shivam Dube as a standout performer in the IPL further complicates Pandya's situation. Dube's consistent batting performances and potential bowling skills make him a strong contender for the T20 World Cup 2024 squad. If Dube can showcase his bowling abilities convincingly, he might overshadow Pandya, whose form has been inconsistent since his return from injury.


In conclusion, Hardik Pandya's struggles with both bat and ball, coupled with his inability to settle into a specific batting position and declining returns against spinners, raise legitimate concerns about his inclusion in India's T20 World Cup squad. The emergence of players like Shivam Dube adds further competition, making Pandya's path to selection more challenging unless he can quickly regain his form and consistency.


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