Cricket News: Hardik Pandya's reasoning for the exclusion of Umran Malik and Sanju Samson
Going into the three-match T20I series against New Zealand, most Indian fans expected that bench players would be given more significant opportunities in the future
Two players who fans were clamoring to see the most were Sanju Samson and Umran Malik. So it is easy to understand their disappointment that neither got a game in the series.
And it's also natural that stand-in skipper Hardik Pandya was asked about the absence of both players. And the reasons he had were both sensible but also head-scratching at the same time.
"Had it been a bigger series and not three games, we could have played them," said Hardik Pandya after the series.
"But I don't believe in chop and change in a short series, and in the future also, that will be my philosophy. It's easy to handle a situation where players feel security."
"I share a cordial rapport with all players and the players I am unable to pick, there is nothing personal and even they know it. It is because of the combination that I am not able to play them."
He elaborated on the exclusion of Sanju Samson, who remained benched due to a 'strategic reason' without elaborating.
"Sanju Samson is an unfortunate case. We had to play him, but for some strategic reason, we couldn't play him. I can understand if I stand in his shoes, even if you are continuously benched for India."
"It is difficult, as much as I speak to them, it's no consolation for not playing, but at the same time, if I can repeat the point and keep a healthy atmosphere, it's fine."
But do the reasons make any sense? India are crying out for new players in two positions – a finisher and an express pace bowler. Sanju Samson and Umran Malik have ready-made players for those positions.
Many would rightfully argue that Sanju Samson is more deserving of a spot in the middle order or higher, but he's been told to prepare for a finisher role and, to his credit, has been doing so in his spare time.
He's also played in the position during ODIs, so why he wouldn't be tried in that position now remains a mystery.
And in Umran Malik's case, the reason for 'less chopping and changing' too holds little water. He should have been one of the first players in the XI because he can consistently break the 150 km/h speed barrier. There is no substitute for raw pace.
Instead, India gave chances to Mohammed Siraj and Harshal Patel. Mohammed Siraj, to his credit, did well in the opportunities he got but had yet to be near the scheme of things in T20Is for months.
And Harshal Patel, even though he also needs game time, has an entirely different skill set to Umran Malik– but, as of now, it's the latter who needs to be prioritized.
Therefore, while there is some logic to Hardik Pandya's words, it doesn't excuse the fact that two players who should be getting more game time now are still riding the bench.
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