Hardik Pandya Reveals India’s Opening Pair for 1st ODI

Stand-in Indian captain Hardik Pandya during a press conference in Mumbai ahead of the 1st ODI against Australia. (AFP)

Stand-in Indian captain Hardik Pandya during a press conference in Mumbai ahead of the 1st ODI against Australia. (AFP)

Both Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan have been in sublime form of late, each notching up ODI double tons

Stand-in Indian captain Hardik Pandya has revealed that his team would open with Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan in the first ODI against Australia to be played in Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Friday.

“Ishan and Shubman will be opening the innings. The wicket looks how it does throughout the year. I have been playing here for almost seven years. It is going to be challenging because this wicket will give equal opportunities to both the sides,” Pandya told reporters in Mumbai on Thursday.

Pandya’s announcement puts to rest the debate about whether to have Kishan or KL Rahul as Gill’s partner at the top of the order. Gill has been in sublime form of late, scoring 567 runs with three centuries in just six ODIs this year, and averaging 113.40. His knocks have included a double century against New Zealand in Hyderabad. He carried his rich vein of form into the Tests too, hitting a sparkling 128 in the just-concluded fourth Test against Australia.

Also read – IND vs AUS 2023: India’s World Cup Preparedness in Focus as Hardik Pandya to Make ODI Captaincy Debut

Kishan has been in good form as well and smashed an ODI double-century in December against Bangladesh. He is a fine wicketkeeper too, which adds another angle to his batting and is a like-for-like replacement for Rahul, who has also kept wickets for Team India in the past.

Rahul, on the other hand, has not been in the best of form, with just two half-centuries in his last 10 ODI innings. He was dropped after the second Test against Australia in the recently-concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy after a string of poor scores in the five-day format. He was also replaced by Pandya as the vice-captain of India’s limited overs sides following the World T20.

Pandya revealed that the players are comfortable with workload-related decisions made by the team management.

Also read – ‘The Management has Shown Confidence and Trust in Players’: Hardik Pandya Backs Board’s Workload-related Decisions

“We have to have faith in our strength and conditioning coaches. I am a guy who trusts his team. These calls of workload, who should play when, who should not play, that is completely on the guys who are professionals and it is their call,” he said.

“All these guys are confident that if they miss out on some matches, then they miss out. It’s okay. That’s the confidence we have. If someone misses out because of workload management, this management has shown confidence and trust in the players. I think that’s the reason players who have gone out have come back with a lot of security,” Pandya added.

India have had a fine start to the ODIs at home this year, winning all their six matches — against New Zealand and Sri Lanka over two separate series.

The Men in Blue, however, will be missing the services of regular skipper Rohit Sharma owing to family commitments. The second and third matches of the series are to be played in Visakhapatnam (March 19) and Chennai (March 22) respectively.

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