India's head coach Rahul Dravid has voiced concerns about the team's balance due to the absence of all-rounder Hardik Pandya in the upcoming 2023 World Cup match against New Zealand, scheduled for Sunday, October 22 in Dharamsala.
Pandya sustained an ankle injury while trying to stop a ball during India's match against Bangladesh in Pune, leading to his exclusion from the game against New Zealand.
In a press conference held on Saturday, Dravid emphasized the significance of Pandya's role in the team. He stated, “Hardik is an important player for us. He is obviously missing this game, and we will try to work around the 14 and see what's the best combination. But we will obviously miss the balance we have had in the first four games.”
The injury occurred during the ninth over of Bangladesh's innings when Pandya attempted to stop a straight drive from Litton Das with his right leg in his follow-through but ended up slipping.
Virat Kohli had to complete Hardik Pandya's over after he left the field against Bangladesh
Subsequently, Virat Kohli had to complete his over. Providing a medical update, the BCCI confirmed that Pandya will join the Indian team directly in Lucknow, where they will face defending champions England on October 29. The BCCI's update stated, “The all-rounder was taken for scans after his fall and has been advised rest. He will be under the constant supervision of the BCCI Medical Team.”
Hardik Pandya had been a crucial contributor to India's World Cup campaign, claiming five wickets in the first three matches and scoring 11* against Australia in his lone batting opportunity.
Rahul Dravid also praised KL Rahul for his remarkable performance in the World Cup, both as a wicketkeeper and a batsman. Dravid acknowledged the challenge Rahul faced as a part-time keeper and coming back from injury, saying, “KL Rahul has been doing a fantastic job. Rahul has really kept superbly in this tournament and batted really well whenever he has got a chance.”
“It is a challenge since he is not someone who keeps regularly. He's kept a bit more than I did but it's still challenging considering that he came back from a long injury. We thought we would build him up and play him in matches leading up to the World Cup but couldn't do that because of his injury. The way he came back and worked hard is great. He's kept really well, and it's really good to see, which gives us a lot of confidence in his abilities.”
Rahul's impressive performances with the bat, including an unbeaten 97 against Australia and an unbeaten 34 against Bangladesh, have further bolstered India's confidence in his abilities.