India ODI stand-in captain Hardik Pandya has admitted that he is right now “a turtle not a rabbit”, but is keen to increase his bowling workload to prepare himself for the World Cup at home in October-November.
Pandya has been used sparingly as a bowler in international matches in recent times due to a spate of injuries - shoulder and back to be precise. He bowled three overs in the first match and took one wicket, giving away 17 runs.
He, however, went wicketless in the second ODI here on Saturday, conceding 38 runs from 6.4 overs.
Plagued by injuries, Pandya, who last played Tests for India in September 2018, has limited himself to only playing white-ball cricket. “My body is fine. I have to bowl more overs and get my workload up for the World Cup. I’m a turtle right now, not the rabbit and hoping everything goes right as the World Cup comes on,” Pandya said after India’s disappointing six-wicket defeat in a rain-marred second ODI here.
The Indian team management’s decision to rest regular skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli backfired as the visitors were bowled out for 181 in 40.5 overs. The home team chased the target with 80 balls to spare, with captain Shai Hope top-scoring with an unbeaten 63.
But Pandya said going into the third and final game on Tuesday, with the series tied at 1-1, would be more challenging and exciting.
“To be honest, you want to be going 1-1 to the third game as it’ll be more challenging and exciting. They will be tested, we will be tested now that the series stands 1-1. The next game will be exciting for the viewers as well as the players,” he said.
None of the India middle-order batters could cope with the pace, bounce and turn at the Kensington Oval pitch, with Romario Shepherd (three for 37) and Gudakesh Motie three for 36) tormenting the visitors.
“We didn’t bat the way we were supposed to. The wicket was better than it was in the first game. Everyone barring Shubman (Gill) hit fielders and got out. Disappointing, but many things to learn,” said Pandya, who himself got out for seven off 14 balls.
India lost five wickets for 23 runs in just 7.2 overs after the opening stand of 90 between Ishan Kishan (55 off 55 balls) and Shubman Gill (34 off 49 balls), which hurt the team’s cause after Hope opted to bowl.
“The way our openers batted, especially Ishan, struck it well and is good for India. Shardul (Thakur) got us back in with his bowling. Hope and Carty batted well and got them through.”
West Indies captain Hope said his team produced a “complete performance”.
“It was a complete performance. Very satisfied, the aim was to get back to the series. We gotta win one more and need to come back strongly. We gotta put in the effort, and today we displayed the right attitude, need to replicate that in all disciplines. We want to tick the boxes and get the right result in the final game,” he said.
Hope, who was adjudged player of the match, was also satisfied with his performance.
“I’m happy as long as my contributions lead to the win. When things are difficult, you gotta find ways to score quickly. So you gotta run hard, we got twos which helped.”
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