T20 World Cup, IND vs NZ: Ishan Kishan Should Open For India Against New Zealand, Hardik Pandya Should Be At No. 6, Says Harbhajan Singh | Cricket News


Ahead of India’s crucial T20 World Cup Super 12 fixture against New Zealand, Harbhajan Singh feels Ishan Kishan should open for Virat Kohli’s outfit with Rohit Sharma. Speaking via his YouTube channel, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) cricketer stated that the Mumbai Indians (MI) wicketkeeper-batter can give India a brilliant start in the powerplay overs. India faced a major batting collapse against Pakistan in their campaign opener, losing openers KL Rahul and Rohit rather early to Shaheen Shah Afridi. Rohit was dismissed for a golden duck and Rahul could only muster three runs off eight balls. Kohli played the only noteworthy knock, smashing a half-century as India posted 151 for seven in 20 overs. Pakistan reached 152 for no loss in 17.5 overs with openers Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam bagging unbeaten half-centuries.

“I feel Ishan Kishan needs to play and it’s important for the Indian team. If he opens with Rohit Sharma, then India would get the start it needs. If Kishan plays six overs, the score won’t be 40-50. It will be 60-70. Ishan Kishan is a swashbuckling batsman. Whenever he is there, any bowler is under pressure”, said Harbhajan.

“If Ishan Kishan opens with Rohit Sharma and then Virat Kohli, KL Rahul play, then our first four batsmen are strong. Rishabh Pant should remain at number 5”, he continued.

The spinner also feels that Hardik Pandya should remain in the playing XI and bat at no. 6. The MI all-rounder didn’t bowl a single over against Pakistan thereby drawing criticism from pundits and fans. But Harbhajan lauded Pandya and heralded him as one of the best in that position.

“Hardik Pandya should be there at the number 6 position. The day he remains at the crease and his shots connect; he can destroy any bowler. He should play even if he can’t bowl. He bats in a position where it’s the most difficult.

“In the T20 format, it’s easier to bat at no. 3 or while opening. But when you need to go at no. 5, you need to start hitting from the first ball itself which requires a lot of skill and game sense, which Hardik Pandya has. In world cricket at no. 6 or no. 7, Hardik is among the most dangerous batsmen. Obviously, there is Kieron Pollard and it doesn’t really matter to AB de Villiers which position he is batting at. But, Hardik Pandya is a must at no. 6”, he stated.

Going on to list the entire playing XI, he said Ravindra Jadeja should remain at no. 7, followed by Shardul Thakur in no. 8.

Thakur didn’t feature against Pakistan, which saw Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowl for India. Bhuvneshwar bowled three overs against Pakistan and conceded 25 runs and looked rather ineffective. Thakur also recently won the IPL 2021 title with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and is high on confidence.

“At 7, we need Ravindra Jadeja. At 8, we need Shardul Thakur. He is a good choice as he is in good form and can also bowl well. He also played well in the IPL final for Chennai Super Kings. He has good confidence”, he said.

Harbhajan also had special praise for Varun Chakaravarthy and said that the KKR spinner can become a match-winner for India.


“At no. 9, we need Jasprit Bumrah. At no. 10, Mohammed Shami. At no. 11, Varun Chakaravarthy”, he said.

“Varun has played less matches, he needs more time. You all will soon say that he is a big match-winner. He is key to India if they want to do well and win the World Cup.”, he further added.

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