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There is no replacement for Pandya: Agarkar

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Mumbai, May 2: Chief selector Ajit Agarkar on Thursday defended the selection of the under-fire Hardik Pandya in India’s T20 World Cup squad, saying “there is no replacement for what he can do” when the flamboyant all-rounder is fit besides lending balance to the side.
Hardik, who is enduring a very difficult IPL season as captain of Mumbai Indians, was not just picked in the Indian team for the upcoming showpiece but was also made the team’s vice-captain, leaving many in the cricket fraternity surprised.
Hardik last featured in an international match for India during the ODI World Cup match against Bangladesh in October 2023.
“Nothing was discussed on vice-captaincy. He has got through all games so far for Mumbai Indians. We have month and a little bit for our first game. As long as he is fit, there is no replacement for what he can do,” Agarkar told reporters when asked about the all-rounder’s selection.
“He’s coming after a longish layoff. We are hoping he’s working on it. Especially the way he bowls, he’ll give (captain) Rohit a lot of balance and options.” Hardik recovered from an ankle injury well in time ahead of IPL 2024 and was named as the captain of the five-time champions in place of Rohit — a decision that attracted a lot of criticism.
Agarkar also said KL Rahul missed out on a spot in India’s T20 World Cup squad because they were looking for “guys” who can bat in the middle, paving the way for Sanju Samson’s inclusion as the team’s second wicketkeeper. (PTI)

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