IND vs NZ: Virat Kohli says Hardik Pandya ‘fit to play – but not bowl’, ‘Shardul also in team’s plans’

It seems Indian skipper Virat Kohli has again decided to show faith on half-fit Hardik Pandya for make or break game vs New Zealand on Sunday. Kohli declared in his Press Conference that ‘Pandya is fit to play but will not bowl’ indicating that he is likely to be included in XI.

Other than Kohli also indicated that Shardul Thakur is likely to be in XI against the Kiwis instead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Indications from Kohli’s Press conference also are clear that R.Ashwin will have to again sit out on the bench.

Likely Indian Playing XI vs NZ – According to the indications from Kohli’s Press Conference –

  • Rohit Sharma
  • KL Rahul
  • Virat Kohli
  • Suryakumar Yadav
  • Rishabh Pant
  • Hardik Pandya
  • Ravindra Jadeja
  • Shardul Thakur
  • Mohd Shami
  • Jasprit Bumrah
  • Varun Chakravarthy

Pressure to bounce back and Shami –

“There is a good reason and we are playing on the field and bunch of spineless individuals go after people with no good work. This is the lowest an individual can operate at. They don’t have the courage to do what we do. All these dramas that is created outside is based on their lack of compassion, courage. We understand how to bounce back. We know how to bounce back. We never focused on the outside noise”

“It’s a pathetic thing to attack someone over religion. Everyone has the right to voice their opinion. Everyone has the right to have an opinion but religion is sacred and it should be left out. They have no understanding of what we do. Shami is primary bowler beside Bumrah in Test cricket. I don’t want to waste any time on them. We all stand by Shami”

Fitness of Hardik: Hardik is fit to play. There is no injury scare, but he will take sometime to bowl.

Shardul Thakur? He is definitely in our plans. He has made a case for himself. But what role he is going to play, I cannot reveal that right now.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s performance? I don’t want to single out anyone. We as a bowling group failed to pick wickets. It happens in the match. We have addressed what went wrong. We have accepted what went wrong. But we won’t give excuses.

Trent Boult factor: We have played against them many times. He is motivated to mirror Shaheen and we are motivated to counter that. All that will matter will be how we bat in a pressure situation.

Toss factor: It will continue to be a big factor. What you can do is challenge yourself as a team. That should be the attitude. Our only focus is to do well. It has been a long break for us and we are itching to go back to the field and correct the mistakes.

Overdependence on Jasprit Bumrah?: He is the best all-format bowler at present. There will always be expectations on him. As a unit we failed to execute the plans. If we can execute our plans, we can beat any team.

Sixth bowler backup?: It’s very important. It could be from Hardik. When he is fit enough to bowl, he will give us those two overs. If we had bowled first against Pakistan, I could have bowled too. But we didn’t get the situation. We could not get those extra few runs.

1Hardik Pandya in XI or Ishan Kishan? No captain can back his players more than what Virat Kohli has done for Hardik Pandya. Despite Pandya’s struggle with his fitness, Kohli has backed him to hilt.


Kohli needs to decided Is is worth it to include off-color, half fit & out of form Hardik in XI at the expense of fully fit & in-form SPECIALIST BATSMAN Ishan Kishan & all-rounder Shardul Thakur.

In a World Cup, it’s unwise to bet on a horse which has been limping for quite some time now. For the record, Hardik as a ‘PURE BATSMAN’ too is struggling, be it in IPL or the practice games or the 1st match vs Pakistan was a proof for that.

InsideSport has gathered, Kohli & Shastri are unlikely to play Hardik ‘PURELY as a BATSMAN’ this time. He will be asked to bowl on Saturday in nets and final call on his inclusion & exclusion will be taken.

2. Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Ashwin or Shardul Thakur? Bhuvneshwar, in his prime, was undoubtedly an asset for Team India. But the Bhuvneshwar of today is unfit, lacks in self-belief and way past his prime.

His IPL 2021 Score Card – 6 wickets from 11 games at an economy of 7.97. Still team persists with him. No one knows why?

Kohli will have to decide – whether to persist with off-color Bhuvi or bring in Ashwin or Shardul Thakur in his place?

Brett Lee says, ‘Ashwin is too good to be left out from Indian XI’. Will Kohli listen and draft him in XI? Ashwin can be a great choice against Kiwis line-up which is full of left handed batsman.

InsideSport has gathered from its sources, team is keen to persist with Varun Chakravarthy, so if Ashwin has to make it to XI it will be at the expense of Bhuvi not Varun.

3. Will in form Ishan Kishan get a look in? Ishan Kishan is very attacking and man in form.

  •  Ishan’s last three T20 innings, including one in a warm-up game against England, have seen scores of 50 not out, 84, 70 not out.

He is a good attacking option, can also play the role of a finisher – provided team show some faith on the Mumbai Indians youngster.