Gautam Gambhir laments India’s lack of options against Australia in Hardik Pandya’s absence from bowling

Former star Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir has blamed India’s lack of bowling options as one of the primary reasons for their dismal performance in the first ODI against Australia on Friday (November 27). India were comprehensively beaten by 66 runs by the Aussies at Sydney as the visitors put in a lacklustre performance.

Opting to bat first, Australia registered a mammoth 374/6 from their innings after brilliant centuries from skipper Aaron Finch and Steve Smith. The hosts plundered the Indian bowler’s, taking them to the cleaners with ease.

In reply, India could manage only 308/8 with Hardik Pandya scoring a brilliant 90 (off 76 balls) and opener Shikhar Dhawan playing a steady knock of 76.

However, despite his brilliant batting, it was Pandya’s lack of bowling that became the hot-topic of discussion.

Gambhir, in a chat with ESPNcricinfo, said that India were desperately missing the bowling services of all-rounder Hardik Pandya – who is usually the side’s sixth bowling option. However, as Pandya is recovering from a serious back injury, he is not bowling and is playing solely as a batsman.

“It has been happening since the last World Cup, if Hardik Pandya is not fit to bowl, then where is your sixth bowling option? Even if Rohit Sharma comes back into the lineup, the problem you are facing now, you will face the same going ahead. There is no one in top six who can give you a couple of overs,” Gambhir said.

Comparing India’s squad to Australia, Gambhir said that the Aussies have several such options at their disposal like Sean Abbott, Moises Henriques while India only had Vijay Shankar apart from Pandya for the role. While Shankar has already been tried, he has simply failed to justify his inclusion with both the bat and the ball.

“If you see the Australian side, they have got Moises Henriques who can give you a couple of overs, they have Sean Abbott who is a bowling all-rounder. If you talk about India, if Hardik Pandya is unfit then where is your sixth bowling option? I can only think of Vijay Shankar as the other all-rounder, does he have the same impact batting at number five-six, and can he give you eight-nine overs? I have my doubts,” he added.

Pandya had marked a stunning return to cricket in the recent IPL 2020 – where he was instrumental taking Mumbai Indians to a record-extending fifth IPL title. However, he didn’t bowl a single ball in the tournament and solely played as a lower order batsman.

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Sagar Biswas

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