New Delhi: The T20 International series with Ireland, essentially a preparation for the stiffer tests to be posed by England thereafter, is the first real test of Hardik Pandya’s captaincy in alien conditions in real terms. While Ireland shouldn’t pose a threat on a given day, the sheer difference in weather and pitch conditions is going to be a challenge for all concerned, especially since India’s T20 International side will go into the contests without any real match practice, as opposed to the Test side which is already going through its paces in England. Not ever an easy place to come up trumps in, the United Kingdom will surely challenge the Indians with bat and ball. But with bigger challenges to come, this could well be Pandya’s golden opportunity to show his mettle as skipper, for now and the future.Also Read – IND vs IRE T20Is: Any Indian Team is Going to be a Good Team, Ireland Skipper Andrew Balbirne on Facing Hardik Pandya-Led Side
Captaincy in India has become a fickle thing. The original skipper, Rohit Sharma, was out of action post the IPL and then KL Rahul was given the responsibility, till he dropped into the inured list and Rishabh Pant took up the mantle against South Africa. Also Read – India vs Ireland T20Is: The Quiz Of ‘Replacement’ Players
Then, Pant was off to England with the Test side, with several other frontline players, and Pandya was handed yet another India selection for the Ireland tour. Also Read – Wasim Jaffer Picks Hardik Pandya as Back-Up Skipper For India Ahead of Rishabh Pant
As things stand, there surely will be more changes in the side that will play T20Is and One-day Internationals in England, especially post the only Test to be played from July 1.
Pandya’s success as Gujarat Titans skipper in the IPL is now passe and he is now in a completely different role. While he has showed poise and collection as Pant’s deputy during the South Africa series, some little chinks, especially in his bowling, were still visible.
Ireland may not have the firepower to prise these chinks into genuine cracks, but England will come all guns blazing. This will be a real challenge for Pandya, as also his squad, especially since there are whispers that the same squad may play in England as well, though it would be a bit difficult to give complete credence to that possibility.
In any case, as things stand, Pandya could well be in consideration not just for a leadership role in Ireland, but in England as well. Pant has shown his weakness in white-ball cricket, and Rahul won’t be back any time soon. Unless Sharma returns to limited-overs action, India have little in terms of options as captain.
Also, a good performance in England could be crucial for the captain with the ICC T20 World Cup on the anvil. Pandya surely has it all to play for.
You never really know who will eventually be the captain, thanks to the cricket board’s current processes. But Pandya, and many others, should be disappointed if a good showing doesn’t push his case hard.