Former India coach, who joins ESPNcricinfo as an analyst for the IPL, says Hardik will struggle to make the national team as a pure batter
There has been a lot of focus on India’s T20 cricket ever since they suffered a group stage exit in the last World Cup. With another one coming up in only 10 months time, the team management will be looking at the IPL for signs of players who can take on that two-in-one role and lend more balance to the XI.
“I think the allrounder’s position at No. 6 for sure,” Shastri said on Wednesday. “Ideally someone in the top-five who can bowl two or three overs. That takes the pressure off the captain. It gives him then six and a half bowlers from whom he can choose. That will be one area I’ll be looking at very closely. And of course the fast bowling and fielding. I’m not really worried about the batting. Batting is there.”
Still, Shastri believes without that second skill Hardik will have a hard time breaking back into the Indian T20 side. “In the top five, there’s a lot of muscle there. If anyone’s occupying the position Nos. 5, 6 onwards, he’ll have to bring that extra department to the game. That is why from Hardik’s point of view, from India’s point of view, from the Gujarat team’s point of view, it’s extremely important that he strings those two or three overs together because if he does and bowls with even limited success, he becomes an automatic choice in the Indian team.”
Shastri said the IPL might also shed some light on who could be the next India captain.