1983 World Cup-winning player Sunil Gavaskar recently stated that he would like to see Deepak Hooda included in the playing 11 for the match against the Netherlands in place of Hardik Pandya.
During the game against Pakistan, Pandya was seen struggling while running between the wickets and skipped the training session on Tuesday at the Sydney Cricket Ground. With the important game against South Africa on Sunday, the Indian think tank might rest Pandya against the Netherlands.
Speaking on India Today, Sunil Gavaskar said feels Deepak Hooda will be the ideal candidate to replace Hardik Pandya. The cricketer-turned-commentator said:
“Well if he has a bit of a niggle, it makes sense to rest him because the game on Sunday against South Africa is going to be a big game too. So, I think anybody who’s got a bit of a niggle, you want to keep them a little fresh for Sunday’s game. But again, it’s a T20 format and you don’t want to take a team lightly.”
The options for Hardik Pandya’s replacement include Harshal Patel and Deepak Hooda. However, Sunil Gavaskar has preferred Hooda over Harshal. Backing his choice Gavaskar said:
“I think I would like to see Deepak Hooda in the team simply because if Hardik Pandya is not there then you have Dinesh Karthik coming in at No. 5. And that might be just a little bit of a concern because if early wickets fall down then you might be just short of batting.”
“Bring Deepak Hooda and let him bat at No. 5” – Sunil Gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar further stated that Hooda should bat at No.5 and bowl a couple of overs against the Netherlands.
“So I do believe you should bring Deepak Hooda and let him bat at No. 5 and that will take care of Hardik Pandya’s overs. Deepak Hooda doesn’t have to bowl his full quota of overs and Axar Patel can bowl the remaining overs and we will still get 20 overs done,” he added.
Deepak Hooda, who made his T20 debut earlier this year, scored 293 runs at a strike rate in excess of 150. He can also offer his part-time spin services to the team, giving them a bowling cushion.