India missed Hardik Pandya the bowler in the second One-day International as their fourth and fifth bowlers — spinners Krunal Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav — proved expensive on Friday. While Krunal leaked 72 runs in six overs, Yadav conceded 84 in 10 overs.

As India picked just five specialist bowlers, the onus was on Hardik to chip in and take the burden off the fourth and fifth bowlers. He, however, didn’t bowl.

The Indian team management has been very conscious about managing his workload. While the all-rounder bowled 17.2 overs in the T20 International series — picking three wickets and conceding 6.94 runs an over — and bowled in each and every game, he has not bowled even a single over in the first two ODIs.

India captain Virat Kohli was asked on why Pandya is not being bowled.

“We need to manage his body. We need to understand where we need this skill-set. We did utilise him in the T20s but in the ODIs, it’s about managing his workload. We have Test cricket in England coming up too. So, it’s important for us to have him fit,” said Kohli after the game.

M. Prasidh Krishna too was asked about it but he said he was not aware of the Baroda player’s injury status.

Pandya can play as a batsman because of his ability to hit big. He showed that in the ODI series against Australia, scoring a couple of 90s in the three-match series.

He showed keenness in staying back for the Test matches as a batsman, but Kohli said his place in the Test side can only be as an all-rounder not as a pure batsman.

Pandya could have even been utilised for three-four overs in the second ODI match just to take the burden off the India spinners. But India probably thought that they’ve taxed him too much in the T20 series, in which five matches were played on alternate days.

With the 52-day long Indian Premier League set to begin on April 9, in less than a fortnight’s time, the right-arm bowler must be saving himself.

Former India opener and captain Virender Sehwag has criticised Kohli’s decision to rest Pandya.

“India isn’t playing any cricket in the next few months. We only have the IPL next. So, you are saying that we have no problem losing the ODI series because we had to manage Hardik Pandya’s workload. If his workload doesn’t include four-five overs then it’s wrong,” Sehwag told Cricbuzz.

“It also shouldn’t be the case that he isn’t bowling even a single over. Fielding for 50 overs also causes fatigue. So if he adds four-five overs to it, it shouldn’t make a huge difference on his workload,” he added.

–IANS

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