T20 World Cup 2021: ‘Finisher’ Hardik gets Kohli’s backing

Virat Kohli has backed Hardik Pandya to be the designated finisher at No. 6 and stressed that the all-rounder should be able to bowl “at least two overs” later on in the T20 World Cup.

Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya during a warm-up match.

India captain Virat Kohli has backed Hardik Pandya to be the designated finisher at No. 6 and stressed that the all-rounder should be able to bowl “at least two overs” later on in the T20 World Cup.

“Hardik, presently with his physical condition, is getting better in terms of being prepared to bowl at least two overs for us at a certain stage in this tournament,” Kohli said on Saturday, ahead of India’s tournament-opener against Pakistan.

“We strongly think that we can make the most of the opportunity that we have at hand until the time he starts bowling. We have considered a couple other options to chip in for an over or two. So we are not bothered about that at all.”

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Citing Pandya’s importance at No. 6, based on his exploits “in Australia purely as a batter” last year, Kohli added that his utility as a  finisher “is way more valuable than forcing him to do something that he is not ready for at the moment”.

“These things from a discussion point of view seem very interesting that if he doesn’t bowl will he be left out, but we understand the value he brings to the team as the No. 6 batter,” Kohli said.

“He is motivated and he is very keen to start giving us a couple of overs, and when that happens, obviously the balance becomes even better.”

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Batting main strength, says Babar

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam exuded confidence in his batting unit. “This time our main strength is batting. The way our batters have been performing over the last couple of months, I am very hopeful that we will produce some good results,” Babar said.

He felt that the fact that Pakistan has never beaten India in World Cups — ODIs and T20s — will not have any bearing on Sunday’s contest.

“We have forgotten what we have done in the past and we are trying to focus on the future. We will try to do better on the field and produce better results.” he said.