Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq termed all-rounder Hardik Pandya’s selection in the playing XI as one of India’s biggest setbacks in their T20 World Cup 2021 opener against Pakistan. Inzamam said India did not get their combination right as they lacked a sixth bowler, who could have come in as a back-up to the five main bowlers. India lost their opening encounter to Pakistan by 10 wickets – their first defeat against the neighbours in a World Cup match in any format after 12 successive victories.
“India’s biggest setback was because they played Hardik Pandya. India were not right with their team selection. Babar Azam knew exactly what he was doing with his XI but India were not,” Inzamam said on his YouTube channel.
Hardik, who scored 11 runs off 8 balls after walking in to bat at No.7 on Sunday in Dubai, hurt his shoulder while attempting a pull shot off Shaheen Shah Afridi in the 19th over of the Indian innings. He immediately grabbed his arm and did not seem comfortable. The all-rounder did not come out to field and was taken for scans.
Inzamam said Pandya grabbing his shoulder and showing that he was hurt was not a good sign. It gave the impression that India were under pressure.
“I did not think it was the right thing for Pandya to point towards his shoulder after being hit. When you play a high-voltage match like this, you don’t give a clue to the opposition even when you are hurt. I have seen Indian players like Sachin Tendulkar get hit but they didn’t used to rub that part. They gave no clue that they were hurt. I immediately got a clue that India were under pressure when Pandya grabbed his shoulders. That was not a good sign. He didn’t come out field, didn’t bowl,” said the former Pakistan batter.
Inzamam explained that the absence of a sixth bowler hurt India’s chances and put captain Virat Kohli under a lot of pressure. He explained how Pakistan skipper Babar Azam made good use of his multiple bowling options and got two overs out of the way using the experienced Mohammad Hafeez.
“If India played a sixth bowler, then it would have been better. Look at how playing Mohmmad Hafeez gave an advantage to Babar Azam. He got two overs out of the way by using Hafeez instead of bowling four from Imad Wasim. They had Shoaib Malik too,” he added.
Inzamam said he had waited for 30 years to see Pakistan beat India in a World Cup match.
“I had waited for this for 30 years and some have waited even longer. Pakistan outclassed India in all departments. Pakistan dominated from the first ball to the last. Not a single thing went against Pakistan. Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf did well with the ball. Hasan Ali went for runs but his aggression was good. Rizwan and Babar unbroken partnership was brilliant,” Inzamam said.