Flamboyant India all-rounder Hardik Pandya is all set to lead the Indian team in the two-match T20I series against Ireland. In the absence of other senior stars, Hardik has been named the captain of the side where the reserve players have the opportunity to make a case for themselves for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
The regular starters of Team India are currently in Leicester preparing for the postponed fifth Test match against England which will be played on July 1 at Edgbaston.
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Hardik said that the Indian team is lucky to have a strong bench strength which allows them to send two teams on different tours.
“If such a situation arises that we have to send two teams, we are very lucky that we have the bench strength where we can allow the players to go and express and a lot of people will get opportunities,” Hardik said during a virtual press conference on the eve of the first T20I.
Hardik further said that playing for India is a dream for every cricketer and now India have a very strong bench strength where four players are fighting for the same spot in the team.
“There are so much talent in India that people don’t get opportunities. Playing for India is always a dream and for them to achieve that dream will be really fantastic,” he said.
“The way talent has come up and the character the players have shown and the way we played, it indicates India’s bench strength. There are plenty of options right now in Indian team. Four people are still fighting for places in the team. They are knocking the doors, so it can be better than that,” he added.
Despite fielding a second-string side against Ireland, Hardik said they would approach the short series the same way they play in a big tournament.
“It’s a challenge mentally, it is easier to say that we are playing against Ireland but playing for India is the biggest pride. If we want to win the World Cup, every match from here is important for us to reach the World Cup final. The first thing I said to all is that it doesn’t matter whom we are playing, we need to focus on our own things,” he stressed.
“We keep the same intensity we generally keep even if we are playing the World Cup or a big series. Again it comes down to mental strength, how better you can get because it’s not easy in two matches getting yourself on but at the same time we are playing for India and we have to be on our A game which we will.
“The discussion between me and the coach is simple — approach the game as you do in any other game for India,” he concluded.
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