Mumbai, March 16 (VOICE) Hardik Pandya, the stand-in skipper for India’s first ODI against Australia at the Wankhede Stadium, said Ishan Kishan and Shubman Gill will be the opening pair for the hosts here on Friday.
With Rohit Sharma unavailable for the ODI series opener due to personal reasons, a vacancy at the top will be filled by Kishan, with the left-handed batter set to join forces with the right-handed Gill.
While Gill hit a double hundred and a century in India’s last ODI assignment against New Zealand earlier in the year, Kishan had an underwhelming run ever since he hit a rollicking 210 against Bangladesh last year.
“Ishan and Shubman will be opening. The wicket looks how it is throughout the year. I have played here for almost seven years and it is one of the finest grounds I have enjoyed playing. It’s going to be challenging since this wicket will give equal opportunities to both sides. That will be more exciting,” said Hardik in the pre-match press conference.
As India re-start their preparations for 2023 ODI World Cup, to be held in October-November here, the team’s past failures in the knockouts and attempts to change the equation have come again to the fore.
Hardik believes India will try to put up a braver show in the lead-up to World Cup. “I don’t think we have tried anything new. We will be trying to be a little brave which I think in the last couple of series we have done quite well.”
“All these bilaterals are as challenging, they can get as close to the wire as they can. That is the only way we are going to learn and start playing under the pressure of knockouts. The past is past, we don’t need to look at that right now. We are hoping for the best things to come.”
Friday’s match will also see Hardik become the 27th ODI captain of India. “Feeling is very great. Obviously, very honoured. From the journey where it started and to now leading the side in ODIs has filled my chest with a little bit more pride. Looking forward to the new challenge, as many games as possible.”
Asked what changes for him as an ODI captain after leading the T20I side for a while, Hardik opined, “It’s an extension of the T20 game. In T20 games, you still have to do a lot of changes because of every ball and over changes the game.”
“In ODIs, it’s more like you continue to do more and have more set plans. It’s like you have one set plan and continue to do it for six overs. It’s more about controlling that six-over periods, and is a little less fast than T20s.”
With India set to play World Test Championship final against Australia at The Oval from June 7-11, Hardik, who last played a Test match in 2018, ruled himself out from playing the finale for the global mace.
“No, I am an ethically very strong person. I haven’t done 10% to reach there. I am not even a part of the 1%. So me coming there and taking someone’s place will ethically not go well with me. If I want to play Test cricket, I will go through the grind and earn my spot to come back. Hence, for that reason, I will not be available for the WTC final or future Test series until I feel that I have earned my spot.”