Former Pakistan pacer Wasim Akram feels that the Indian team is good even without Hardik Pandya in their lineup and they shouldn’t risk the star all-rounder against England in the upcoming ODI World Cup match, adding that it’s difficult to drop Mohammed Shami after his heroics with the ball in Dharamshala.
The 30-year-old Pandya sustained an ankle injury in the match against Bangladesh and missed the New Zealand clash. He is currently undergoing treatment for his injury at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru and expected to be fully fit for the England game in Lucknow on Sunday.
In absence of Hardik, India made two changes in their playing XI against New Zealand, bringing in Mohammed Shami and Suryakumar Yadav.
Playing his first match of the ODI World Cup 2023, Shami produced an exceptional performance as he picked up a five-wicket haul and helped India restrict New Zealand to a score of 273. In reply, India chased the target with two overs to spare with four wickets in hand.
Therefore, the 57-year-old Akram feels that India shouldn’t let Hardik recover completely and continue playing with Shami.
“This squad looks good even without Pandya. If he is fit then well and good. It will be difficult to drop Shami now. I feel India shouldn’t risk Pandya (against England) because if it’s an injury to a hamstring or quad, then although you feel good initially, you could pull a muscle in the match. So let him recover 100 percent and then you can play him,” Wasim told Sportskeeda.
The former Pakistan captain also lauded the Indian team management to keep the players ready for every game.
“Credit to the team management that whenever any player in the squad comes into the XI, he seems ready. When Shami’s ball hits the seam, it can deviate either way. That’s why I think Shami for me was the player of the match,” said Wasim.
Rohit Sharma led India is the only unbeaten side now and currently leading the points table with five wins in as many games.
They have four more group stage matches to play – that against England in Lucknow on October 29, against Sri Lanka in Mumbai on November 2, against South Africa in Kolkata on November 5, and against the Netherlands in Bengaluru on November 12.