Former India opener Wasim Jaffer has revealed the name of a player who will be ahead of star all-rounder Hardik Pandya in the selection race for the T20 World Cup 2022, scheduled to be played in Australia later this year.
Notably, ever since his return from a back injury, Pandya hasn’t contributed a lot as an all-rounder for Team India. The Baroda cricketer has only played as a specialist batter-cum-finisher in white-ball cricket.
In fact, even after his comeback to the national side, Pandya hasn’t been consistent for India. He has remained on the sidelines since the T20 World Cup 2021, making himself unavailable for selection due to further rehabilitation.
The 28-year-old, along with the Indian selectors, were heavily criticised after Pandya’s flop show in the T20 World Cup. In the recently-announced India squad for Sri Lanka T20Is, Pandya wasn’t named, and hence t is expected that he will return to competitive cricket in the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022. The Indian star is set to make his first appearance as a full-time captain of the CVC-owned Gujarat Titans (GT).
Team India stars Shardul Thakur, Venkatesh Iyer and Deepak Chahar have been pushing the envelope with a series of noteworthy performances ever since Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya was dropped from the white-ball squad of the Rohit Sharma-led side. Gearing up for the 15th season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with Gujarat Titans, all-rounder Pandya has not played international cricketer after India’s forgetful campaign in the 2021 edition of the ICC World T20.
Pandya’s ouster from the national squad has paved the way for the likes of Shardul, Iyer and Chahar to showcase their exploits in the limited-overs format. While Chahar is considered a makeshift all-rounder, Iyer and Shardul are often pitted against Pandya for the vacant all-rounder’s position in the Indian white-ball squad.
The Rahul Dravid-coached Team India side also missed the services of veteran all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja in the recently concluded T20I series against the West Indies. However, all-rounders Shardul and Iyer have strengthened their case in the selection race for the forthcoming T20 World Cup. Iyer, who has only played half a dozen T20I matches for India, has been considered as an ideal replacement for Pandya at the T20 World Cup 2022.
Now the major question arises whether Pandya will be given preference over other candidates in the T20 World Cup 2022 squad. Speaking about the red-hot topic, Jaffer picked newly-joined all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer over Pandya.
Wasim Jaffer lavished praise on Venkatesh and preferred him ahead of Pandya while mentioning that the role of Pandya is still unclear whether he is going to contribute with the ball or not.
“At this point of time, I feel he’s a little bit ahead because you don’t know Hardik Pandya whether he’s bowling now or how fit he is. Obviously, how the IPL goes for Hardik Pandya will play a very key role, but at this point of time, Venkatesh Iyer is ahead of Hardik Pandya,” said Jaffer as quoted by ESPNcricinfo.
Wasim Jaffer said fans have seen Venkatesh as an opener for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021, but his contribution as number six batter has been outstanding for the ‘Men in Blue’. The Mumbaikar felt Venkatesh would give an edge to India in the forthcoming global showpiece event with his all-round display of cricket.
“I am surprised with how good he’s playing as a No. 6 batter. We have seen him as an opener, but for him to come out and get adapted so well at No. 6 and finish games is outstanding. Plus, the way he’s bowled as well, got a couple of important wickets. He definitely gives [India] an edge going into the World Cup,” added Wasim Jaffer.