T20 World Cup: Kohli backs Pandya to step up as specialist batsman

By Sports Desk October 23, 2021

Virat Kohli says Hardik Pandya can make a big impact for India as a specialist batsman in the T20 World Cup as "you cannot create overnight" what the India all-rounder brings at number six.

Pandya continues to be troubled by a long-standing back injury but will be in the India side for their first match of the World Cup against fierce rivals Pakistan at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.

India captain Kohli is backing Pandya to deliver with the bat for the tournament favourites despite his lack of runs in the Indian Premier League.

Kohli said: "Honestly, I feel that Hardik presently with his physical condition is getting better in terms of being prepared to bowl at least two overs for us at a certain stage in this tournament.

"We strongly feel that we can make the most of the opportunity at hand until the time he starts bowling, we've considered a couple of other options to chip in for an over or two.

"So, we're not bothered about that at all. What he brings at that number six spot is something you cannot create overnight."

Pakistan have lost all five of their T20 World Cup matches against India - including the final in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2007.

Yet Babar Azam's side are on an 11-match T20 winning streak in the United Arab Emirates and the skipper says they can get the better of their biggest rivals in their Super 12 Group 2 opener.

Babar said: "We have forgotten what happened in the past and we are trying to focus on the future. We want to use our ability and confidence on the day of the match so that we can get a better result.

"Records are meant to be broken. The matches between Pakistan and India are always full of intensity so we need to perform well in all three departments of the game.

"The boys are excited to play the World Cup and we have a crucial match on Sunday. A winning impact is necessary and then we will go match by match."

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