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T20 World Cup | 'It gives India the balance they need': Zaheer Khan hopeful of Hardik Pandya bowling against New Zealand

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 28-10-2021 hindustantimes.com

Former Indian cricketer, Zaheer Khan is hopeful of Hardik Pandya bowling in India's second game of the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup 2021 in the UAE, against New Zealand on October 31, after the all-rounder was spotted bowling in the nets during India's training session on Wednesday at the ICC Academy.

The sight was the highlight of India's session in Dubai as the team returned to training after a short break following their 10-wicket defeat against Pakistan in the opener on October 24.

Hardik bowled for a short span, following a fitness session under the watchful eyes of strength and conditioning coach Nick Webb and Soham Desai.

READ: Hardik Pandya tests his bowling at India nets

Zaheer feels that this is a good sign for Team India who missed a sixth-bowling option during their game against Pakistan. The veteran pacer also feels that with Hardik returning as a bowler, it gives India the much-needed balance ahead of the crucial New Zealand tie.

"There was a buzz that at some stage he will start to bowl. And we will have to wait and see. Yes, he has started to bowl in the nets so hopeful that he will bowl in the next match. It is going to be crucial because when Hardik is bowling, it does shift the balance of the bowling attack in good strength because as a captain you have that sixth bowling option. Look at any team, they have a minimum of six bowling options except for India that went in with five bowling options. You then kind to get stuck with rotating the bowlers and does not give you freedom as we saw in the last game," he told Cricbuzz.

While it's still early days for the management, given Hardik has returned to bowling after a long period, having neither bowled for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2021 nor for India during the warm-up matches for the World T20. However, captain Virat Kohli expects Hardik to bowl at least two overs in a game at some stage in the competition.

"Well, I honestly feel that Hardik Pandya presently with his physical condition is getting better in terms of being prepared to bowl at least two overs for us at a certain stage in this tournament and we strongly believe we can make the most of the opportunity we have at our hand till the time he starts bowling. We have considered a couple of other options to chip in with overs so we are not bothered about that all," said Kohli during a virtual pre-match press conference ahead of the Pakistan game.

Hardik too had revealed, ahead of the start of the Pakistan game, that will return to bowling in the later stages of the game

"We make sure we tick the right boxes, and do the processes right. The back is fine. It was jittery, but I won't be bowling for now. I want to be able to bowl eventually, closer to the knockouts. The professionals and I both have to take the call about when I can have a bowl," Hardik said in his pre-match interview with Star Sports.

India will be up against New Zealand on October 31 in Dubai.

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