India’s young squad to Ireland for a two-match Twenty20 international series is a sign of the team’s strength in depth, stand-in captain Hardik Pandya said yesterday.
The all-rounder was appointed skipper for the tour after regular captain Rohit Sharma, star batsman Virat Kohli and other senior players were rested for the white-ball series beginning Sunday in Dublin.
“We are so lucky that we have the bench strength that we can go and allow the players to express and a lot of people will get the opportunity, which generally doesn’t come as many players do not get a chance to show their talent,” Pandya said at an online press conference.
He said that a couple of debuts could be made during the matches, but the team will ensure the strongest side is fielded in the series.
“There will be a situation where there will be a couple of caps given but more than anything, it’s about making sure that we have the best XI,” he said. “We have to play every match like it’s a World Cup final. So, it doesn’t matter who we are facing, we have to face every team like it’s the most important one.”
India’s 17-man squad features several new faces following impressive performances in the Indian Premier League, including fast bowler Umran Malik and batsman Rahul Tripathi.
Pandya’s elevation to the captaincy came on the back of his performance in leading IPL newcomers Gujarat Titans to this year’s title.
He has received praise for his leadership skills, and his short stint as captain in Ireland will further cement his claim for the top job in the future.
But Pandya said he will try to focus on the current series instead of impressing anyone.
“I am not here to show anything to anybody. I have got an opportunity to lead India, that itself is a big thing for me. I don’t play this sport to show anything to anybody,” he said.
“I will see in the future, otherwise more than anything I am just focusing on what I can bring in this series.”
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