Team India head coach Rahul Dravid has admitted that the balance of the side will be hampered by all-rounder Hardik Pandya’s absence for the 2023 World Cup match against New Zealand in Dharamsala on Sunday, October 22.
Pandya injured his ankle while trying to stop a ball in his follow-through during India’s match against Bangladesh in Pune. He was subsequently ruled out of the game against New Zealand.
At a press conference on Saturday, Dravid acknowledged that India will miss the versatility that Pandya brings to the team..
“Hardik is an important player for us. He is obviously missing this game and we will try to work around the 14 and see what’s the best combination. But we will obviously miss the balance we have had in the first four games,” he stated.
The injury to Pandya occurred in the ninth over of Bangladesh’s innings. He tried to stop a straight drive from Litton Das with his right leg in his follow-through, but ended up slipping in the process. He, subsequently, limped off the field and Virat Kohli had to complete his over.
Later, providing a medical update on the all-rounder, BCCI confirmed that Pandya will join the Indian team directly in Lucknow, where they will face defending champions England on October 29. The BCCI update sated:
“The all-rounder was taken for scans after his fall and has been advised rest. He will be under the constant supervision of the BCCI Medical Team.”
Pandya claimed five wickets in India’s first three matches in the 2023 World Cup. He batted only once, scoring 11* against Australia.
“KL Rahul has been doing a fantastic job” – Rahul Dravid
Dravid also hailed KL Rahul for his keeping in the World Cup so far. The Indian legend added that it’s a challenge for the cricketer since he is not a regular keeper and also pointed out to the fact that he has only recently come back from injury. Dravid commented:
“KL Rahul has been doing a fantastic job. Rahul has really kept superbly in this tournament and batted really well whenever he has got a chance. It is a challenge since he is not someone who keeps regularly. He’s kept a bit more than I did but it’s still challenging considering that he came back from a long injury.
“We thought we would build him up and play him in matches leading up to the World Cup but couldn’t do that because of his injury. The way he came back and worked hard is great. He’s kept really well and it’s really good to see, which gives us a lot of confidence in his abilities,” the 50-year-old added.
Rahul has been impressive with the bat as well, scoring 97* against Australia and 34* against Bangladesh.