Kumble backs Pandya to continue good form

New Delhi, Oct 19 (IANS) With Hardik Pandya picking up the man of the match award in his One-Day International (ODI) debut during the first match against New Zealand, India coach Anil Kumble is confident that the all-rounder will bring in much needed balance to the team.

Pandya returned figures of 3/31 in the first match of the five-ODI series in Dharamsala last Sunday as India restricted New Zealand to a total of 190 runs.

Kumble asserted that such an encouraging performance on his ODI debut will give Pandya the confidence to perform well in the second match of the series as well.

“He is someone who obviously gives us the right balance because he can bowl. He can not only bowl, he bowls at a pretty decent pace as well. It was nice that he really bowled well in the first game with the new ball. That was something that Dhoni wants him to try and it was heartening that he got the man of the match in his first game.

“So it was something that I am sure will give him a lot of confidence. All-rounders who can run in and bowl quick and bat are certainly an asset. He is someone who will be closely monitored and we will see how he progresses. He certainly has the potential. He has shown his potential in the limited opportunities that he has got,” Kumble told reporters here on Wednesday.

“As someone who has just started his international career we do not want to put pressure on him by giving him specific plans as to what is expected of him. He is someone who likes the freedom. That is what we have given to someone like Hardik.

“We tell him to bowl freely and not worry about getting hit. We don’t tell him to bowl in one particular spot. Even with his batting, he has the freedom to go and bat freely whatever be the match situation,” the India coach added.

Kumble, who refused to divulge the Indian playing XI, said the Ferozeshah Kotla ground here will be suitable for batting.

“It should be a good surface for one-day cricket. It should be a good surface for batting. As far as (team) combination goes, we still have time. We will let you know tomorrow,” he said.

Kumble is also pleased with opener Ajinkya Rahane’s form and asserted that the Maharashtra right-hander will continue to open the innings in the near future.

“At the moment Rahane certainly fits in at the top of the order. That is something we will persist with. It does give us an option once Shikhar (Dhawan) and K.L. Rahul are fit,” Kumble said.

“We have a lot of time before the next ODI series against England. In this ODI series, Rahane will open the batting. Looking at the Champions Trophy we will then decide who is our opening combination.”

The former leg-spinner also said that although flexibility in the batting remains a target in limited-overs cricket, Manish Pandey is being looked upon as a potential fixture at the number four slot.

“We have a couple of options at that spot. Manish (Pandey) is someone who has done really well in the recent past. He started off well even in Dharamsala. Manish is someone who has shown promise and the performances to back it as well,” Kumble remarked.

“He comes into the Indian team with a lot of experience in domestic cricket. Its not like he is someone like Hardik Pandya who is new at this level. He is certainly the number four we are looking into,” he added.

“But in ODI’s I don’t think is is necessary that you should have some positions fixed. It all depends on the situation. You could see someone else walking in as well.”

The 46-year-old also asserted that India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will continue to bat in his present position as he has the required experience to finish off a chase.

“It all depends on match situations. While chasing you need more experience. As far as MS is concerned, he has enough experience. He has shown over the years that he has enough capabilities as a batsman,” Kumble insisted.

“We don’t need to really look close at giving him time to settle in. You will probably see a different batting order depending on different situations.”



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