Ganguly surprised at Pandya, Bhuvneshwar’s exclusion from Sydney Test
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya (AFP Image)

The exclusion of allrounder Hardik Pandya and medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has left Sourav Ganguly surprised. The former India captain, in his column for Thursday’s Time of India, mentioned how Bhuvneshwar could have been an ideal replacement for the injured Ishant Sharma, who was left out of India’s 13-member squad with Umesh Yadav being named his replacement. About Pandya, Ganguly felt his all-round skills could have provided India depth in their Playing XI.

“I am surprised not to see Hardik Pandya in the 13 as he adds value with both bat and ball and would have been the third seam option as well. I am also surprised that Bhuvneshwar Kumar has not been brought in especially with Ishant unfit,” Ganguly wrote.

Pandya proved his fitness and played a Ranji Trophy match for Baroda before being added in India’s squad for the final two Tests. With R Ashwin injured, Pandya could have been a valuable addition in the team, but coach Ravi Shastri had said that the team management wouldn’t want to rush him back considering his lack of match practice.

The surface at the Sydney Cricket Ground has been a hot topic of discussion heading into the fourth Test. In fact, the mystery surrounding the surface was so that Tim Paine’s held back on announcing Australia’s Playing XI for the day of the toss because they wanted to have a final look at the pitch. SCG has traditionally assisted spin and Ganguly believes it won’t be a bad idea to play two spinners.

“There is a lot of talk about the SCG pitch; I am told that there is a fair bit of grass and that’s obviously to stop it from breaking. The MCG was also dry, but was not unplayable, so India will have to be very careful when choosing the second spinner. Australia has included another, the allrounder Marnus Labuschagne, though I do not see them playing a second spinner there. Perhaps his being good enough to bat in the top six will get him into the XI,” the former India captain added.

“For India, if at all they want to play a second spinner, they have to be 100 percent sure about Ashwin’s fitness because if anything goes wrong during the match, India will be left with three bowlers.”

Paine hinted at reshuffling Australia’s batting order keeping in mind the imminent return of Steve Smith and David Warner. As India opted to bat first, those changes remain to be been, yet it is assumed that Aaron Finch would be pushed down to the middle order and Usman Khawaja would perform the opening duties.

“Australia will have to get their top order right. There are lot of questions are being asked about Aaron Finch and I don’t think his technique is right for Tests. However, he can breathe a sigh of relief as Ishant Sharma is out with an injury. Finch looked particularly uncomfortable against Ishant, the opener having a problem with the ball coming in,” Ganguly said.