Indian head coach Anil Kumble has admitted that they have given full freedom to Hardik Pandya, who grabbed the limelight with figures of three for 31 in his ODI debut against New Zealand, to perform at his absolute best.
Addressing a press conference on the eve of the second ODI to be played at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Kumble said Pandya has just started his international career and, therefore, the team doesn’t want to put much pressure on him by asking him to perform in a certain way.
“Someone, who is just starting his international career, we don’t want to put pressure on him by giving him definite plans that this is something we expect from him. He is someone who likes the freedom and that is exactly what we have given to Hardik. We don’t want to burden the younger player who is coming in to suggest that this is what is expected this from you,” he said.
“Hardik is someone, even with his regard to bowling, all we have told him is to just go out there and bowl with freedom and don’t worry about getting hit,” he added.
The 47-year-old former leggie further said that pressure usually doesn’t bring out the best of the players.
“The moment you start putting pressure, it doesn’t work that way. So, even with his batting, he (Pandya) has all the freedom, doesn’t really matter what the situation is. When he walks in, I am sure he will play in the way he wants to play rather than how you want him to play. At this time, in his career, we will like to give him freedom,” he said.
In the opening match at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala which the Men in Blue won by six wickets, limited-overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni took everyone by surprise by handing Pandya the new ball ahead of Jasprit Bumrah.
Pandya, however, soon showed that the skipper had taken a right decision as he bagged Man of the Match award for his impressive bowling performance.
Reflecting on Dhoni’s decision to try Pandya with the new ball, Kumble said he felt really pleased to see the all-rounder providing right balance in the team and come up as the Man of the Match in his debut ODI.
“I think he is someone, who obviously gives us the right balance because he can bowl with a pretty good pace as well. And it was nice that he really bowled well in the first game. In the ODI, with the new ball, that was the strategy that Dhoni wanted Hardik to try. It is really heartening that he came up with the Man of the Match in his first game. So, I am sure it has given him a lot of confidence. Like I mentioned you know all-rounders, who can bowl quick and bat,” highlighted Kumble.
The former Indian skipper also hinted the number four spot in the batting line-up could go to Manish Pandey, who has performed really well with the bat in recent times.
“We have a couple of option for the number four spot. Manish Pandey has done really well in the recent past. He started off very well in Dharamsala. So, it is not necessary to have certain position fixed as far as batting goes. It all depends upon the situation. So, you could see someone else walking in at No.4, No.1 or No.2. So those options are always available,” he said.
“I think Manish is someone who had shown a lot of promise and a lot of performances. That is something really heartening. He has come into the international cricket with solid domestic performance over the years. So that certainly gives him an additional advantage of knowing exactly what to do in different situations,” Kumble stressed.