Whether you are a Mumbai Indians fan or a fan of Indian cricket, everyone knows the impact promising young all-r0under Hardik Pandya has on the game.
Especially in the last couple of cricketing seasons, an electrifying young talent Pandya has gone from being an inexperienced rookie into being a settled and focused international athlete.
And this promising cricketer would’ve surely been counting on his abilities to deliver big in the charity T20 against the West Indies on May 31. Alas, he won’t be able to deliver this time around.
Will Windies breathe easy in the absence of Pandya?
In what is expected to be a key absence in a T20 that’ll inarguably be watched dearly by Cricket lovers- the news of Hardik Pandya’s absence owing to a viral infection has upset fans.
And at the same time, it has jolted the overall context of the game.
Why will Hardik Pandya be dearly missed?
Not because facing the ICC World XI is a prudent and mighty cricketing force in the West Indies, albeit World T20 Champions on two occasions. But simply because given his sheer natural talent with the bat to deliver big blows which would’ve come in handy in a format tailor-made for batsmen’s prosperity.
Also, owing to his athletic abilities, Hardik Pandya would’ve added bite to a side that already has names like Shakib, Tamim, Eoin Morgan, Afridi, Rashid Khan and, Mitchell McClenaghan.
But it’s not all downhill for ICC World XI
Moreover, while Mohammad Shami has been added to the ICC World XI, wrist spinner Adil Rashid of England has also been named in the squad to face the West Indies, successful big hitters in cricket’s briefest format.
Although, Mohammad Shami has played only 7 T20s so far, from which he’s picked 8 wickets, along with Rashid who’s a quick spinner and knows the home conditions better than anyone else, Shami, naturally adept at swinging the ball and moving it away from batsmen can cause difficulties to the likes of Powell, Lewis and Hope, who’ve hardly played him.
But, the Windies aren’t expected to be lame pushovers
Not the most obdurate cricketing force in world cricket and at the same time, not a T20 weakling either, the West Indies have emerged masters of the T20, after having shocked the world in 2012 and 2016, going as far as being in the semis in 2014.
While there’s no official word on ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle’s presence in the one-off T20 yet, the Jason Holder-led side would feel they have a chance.
Thanks to familiar young guns in the shortest format of the game in Evin Lewis, Shai Hope and, Rovman Powell, the latter being in supreme touch in March, when the side overcame the associate nation’s challenge to qualify for the World Cup, the West Indies cannot be considered pushovers.
How promising do the West Indies seem?
Interestingly, England players especially captain Eoin Morgan would be mindful of how to contain a potential ‘Evin Lewis-storm’ who blasted his bowlers on his way to a career-best 176* at London, the last he faced England.
At the same time, Shai Hope and Hetmyer, both of whom registered vital match-winning knocks in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers looked in fine touch. Hope, in particular, has been the key lynchpin of the vital cogs of a resurgence the West Indies have experienced in the last cricketing summer.
In 2017, playing at Headingley, Shai Hope rewrote cricketing record-books when he struck two back-to-back hundreds to tear apart English bowlers scoring freely off English duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
All that it would take West Indies to dismantle ICC World XI- if at all- would be for captain Jason Holder to step in. The calm thinker is a prudent cricketer who often underachieves enormously if it could be said.
Although, a clearly dedicated captain and an impressive talent, has Jason Holder really made use of his full potential- as a natural wicket-taker and clean striker of the ball?
The only real sign his West Indian fans sensed of the calm Barbadian cricketer’s promise was when he was both among wickets and also amid thick runs against the likes of PNG, UAE, Afghanistan and Ireland in the Qualifiers.
But above all, whosoever wins this time around, it has to be reflected that cricket will be the biggest gainer as the proceeds from the contest will go to rehabilitate the Caribbean that suffered onerous damages thanks to inclement weather and hurricanes last year.
The match will be played on May 31st.