Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], March 16 (ANI): Stand-in captain for the first ODI match against Australia, Hardik Pandya believes star pacer Jasprit Bumrah's absence from the match will not affect the Indian pace attack department's strength.
The India-Australia ODI series starts on 17 March in Mumbai. The hosts will also be without their regular captain Rohit Sharma for the first game but he is set to return for the last two games.
In his absence, Hardik Pandya will lead the side in the first ODI at the Wankhede Stadium.
Bumrah has been out of action since September 2022 owing to a back injury and as a result, missed the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia. The ace pacer completed his rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru and has been seen bowling in the nets but BCCI have chosen not to rush him back into action.
"Jasprit hasn't been around for quite some now. In the bowling group, we have been doing a decent job. They're all experienced now....the number of games they have played. Having Jassi makes a massive difference but to be very honest, we aren't much bothered because the guys who have taken the role of Jassi, I am quite confident they'll be doing very well. It gives us good confidence," Hardik Pandya said in the pre-match press conference on Thursday.
Bumrah isn't the only injury the Indian think tank is dealing with right now. Shreyas Iyer has been ruled out of the upcoming series due to a recurrence of a lower-back injury and will also miss the upcoming IPL season.
India will miss key middle-order batter Iyer due to the recurrence of a back injury. The Mumbai batter was India's go-to number four option in recent months, and the team will need someone to fill in the position in his absence.
"I have been in that situation where back could be a problem....we'll miss him but we have to find solutions if he isn't around. If he is, he is of course welcome. There's a lot of time to think about how we can go forward," the stand-in captain Pandya said.
"That is not my call. We have to have an amount of faith in our strength and conditioning. I am a guy who trusts his team. These calls of workload, who should play when, who should not play that is completely On the guy who are professionals and it is their call. All these guys are confident if they miss out on some matches, then they miss out. It's okay. That's the confidence we have. If someone misses out because of workload management, this management has shown confidence and trust in the players. I think that's the reason players who have gone out have come back with a lot of security," Pandya said.
With the captain and opener, Rohit Sharma ruled out of the first match, Men in Blue will have to find a replacement to bat at on top of the batting order with Shubman Gill.
They tried Kishan during the New Zealand ODIs, which were also missed by Iyer due to his back concerns, but the Jharkhand player scored merely 30 runs in three opportunities.
There's also Suryakumar Yadav, who has scored 49 runs in three innings this year. While he averages merely 28.86 in the ODIs, India might be tempted to give the batter a nod based on his blistering T20I run. Suryakumar is a regular no. 4 in the T20Is, and India would only benefit if he brings the same initiative to his ODI game.
"Ishan (Kishan) and Shubman (Gill) will be opening," confirmed Pandya. (ANI)