Asia Cup: Once Hardik Pandya hits 140kph, he is a different bowler, says Paras Mhambrey

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Colombo, September 14 (IANS) In India’s 41-run win over Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup Super Four match, Hardik Pandya was fiery in his five-over spell, consistently bowling hard lengths and touching 140kph mark to put the pressure on the gritty duo of Dhananjaya de Silva and Dunith Wellalage.

It was a ploy which worked well as de Silva miscued to mid-on off Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik came back to remove Maheesh Theekshana to ensure the winning path of the Indian team and seal their qualification for the Asia Cup final.

Now ahead of India’s match against Bangladesh on Friday, bowling coach Paras Mhambrey praised Hardik for touching high speeds consistently against Sri Lanka, a notion he feels makes him a different bowler to face in ODIs.

"I am very happy with the way Hardik has shaped up, something that we have worked on for a long time. We have been just managing his workload, making sure that he is fit firstly and able to achieve what we expect out of him. Once he hits 140 kmph he is a different bowler, something which he’s doing consistently, like what he did in the last game.

Also, from the team perspective it's a wicket-taking option that we have in Hardik and at that stage (against Sri Lanka), we needed someone who could challenge the bowlers, which he did and I was extremely happy with the way he bowled," said Mhambrey in the pre-match press conference.

Apart from Hardik, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja have stepped up with the ball on different occasions, leaving no room for someone like a Mohammed Shami in a full-strength bowling line-up.

"It’s extremely difficult; it's not very easy to drop someone like Shami. The experience that he has and the performance that he has done for the country it’s phenomenal. It's never easy to have that kind of a conversation (dropping a player)."

"But we are clear in the way we have gone about the conversation with the players and they have shown confidence in us. Players know any decision that we take, which comes from the intent and other thing they know that it is taken for the benefit of the team."

"We take decisions keeping in mind the team and it is something which we have made very clear for the past few years. The players know why they are out of the team and its very difficult to leave out someone like Shami. But at that stage, the requirement could be that it may not be possible to play him and he understands that as we have been honest with that communication," elaborated Mhambrey.

In the optional practice session on Thursday, Shreyas Iyer batted after recovering from back spasms, alongside Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma, who bowled his part-time off-spin at the nets. Mhambrey was the head coach of the India U19 team in 2020 World Cup and feels Tilak can be an asset with his part-time bowling skills.

"We have been working with Tilak since the Under-19 days. I felt that when we had gone to South Africa for Under-19 (World Cup in 2020), he possessed of a bowling skill that we could definitely use, and so we have been working on that consistently, like working in today’s nets sessions."

"We are looking to see if he plays and manages to get a chance to bowl even one over, we'll start from there. If we can look at that and gain confidence from his bowling, the captain will have an option in bowling. The objective is that only and talking of his playing chances, not decided yet on the team, and I feel Rahul and Rohit will have a talk about it."

"In case we need an extra spinner given the circumstances - based on conditions or opposition batters - especially if there are left-handers and you need an off-spinner, we need an option to go to. So, we are working with him on his bowling and yes, he’s match ready if either him or Suryakumar (Yadav) are included in playing eleven," he concluded.