Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya has come out and defended India's selection choices for the ongoing Test at the Lord's Cricket Ground.
There has been widespread criticism of India's move to play 2 spinners - Ravichandran Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav - at the Home of Cricket instead of an extra seamer in Umesh Yadav or Shardul Thakur, with the conditions conducive of swing and seam bowling.
There was nothing for the spinners on offer from the surface on Day 3 and despite Ashwin beating the batsmen in guile and variations, he alongside Kuldeep couldn't quite make a mark.
Now though, Hardik has defended the choice by saying, "Obviously they [team management] had some thought behind it [picking the second spinner]. I don't get into that too much. I think three pacers [including himself] were enough, to be honest," and added for the overall bowling unit that, "We did enough and we bowled properly. We gave whatever we had to give. As I told you, today's wicket was the wicket we expected [at Lord's from Day 1] and it was a proper call. If this was a five-day game, spinners would've come into play. But because of the rain and everything, it was short and there are not many footmarks and it was not gripping that much. If this was a five-day game, things would have been different,"
Going into lunch, in response to India's 107, England were 89-4 but then Chris Woakes' 120* and Jonny Bairstow's 93 took the game completely away from the visitors.
Hardik talked about this at the press conference and said, "Nothing happened (after lunch). That was the problem. As a bowling unit, we tried but all of a sudden the ball stopped swinging and they Woakes and (Jonny) Bairstow took the game away. It happens I've seen in Tests. You get four or five wickets quickly and then you get one partnership. Even with our batting line-up, it has happened many times. It's just a part of the game,"
Pandya believes that even the home side would've struggled had they batted first.
"Any team would have got the same score which we got because playing in those conditions [was tough], a little drizzle was there, and wicket got a little wet as well. Today the conditions were different. When we bowled today, there was proper sunlight. The wicket was the ideal one, which we would have expected on the first day. But because of the conditions, the pitch started doing a lot", he said.
There has been a debate around Pandya's role in the side as well. There seems to be lack of clarity around him, as he bats no.8 and hasn't been bowling as much a no.8 is supposed to.
"If I am batting, I think as a batsman and if I am bowling, I think as a bowler. I don't have any one particular role." he cleared and added, "My role when I bowl, I like to keep it tight and try to make sure that the batsman makes mistakes. I don't try much stuff. Keep it tight and let's see what they do. And we know that they love to play shots and playing like that you will tend to make one mistake. We were expecting that they will (make mistakes)."
For someone so young but with wisdom, Hardik shrugged off any suggestion that England has been "Lucky" in winning the toss and getting to bowl and bat in better conditions than India.
"I don't believe in luck too much. Whatever happens is down to hard work. And this is a game, where they won the toss and put us into bat. If we had won the toss, we could have had them in the same position. But it is not. Luck doesn't come into this, and it is just a way of saying things. We will keep working hard and try hard and see what happens then," he concluded.
(Inputs from PTI)