Dubai: Hardik Pandya is not bowling and that is what is creating all the problems or else a player of his stature would walk into the Indian side easily. But today, with Shardul Thakur in the mix – chances of Hardik making India’s playing XI for the game against Pakistan looks tricky. But the Mumbai Indians star has the backing of his captain, Virat Kohli. Ahead of the game on Sunday, Kohli said Hardik may play in the side, purely as a specialist No 6 batter.

“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,” Kohli said on the eve of India’s T20 World Cup opener against Pakistan in Dubai. “We strongly feel that we can make the most of the opportunity at hand till 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 No.6 spot is something you cannot create overnight.”

Kohli also said that he always backed Hardik as a batter and cited the example of his performance in Australia. “I was always in favour of backing him in Australia as a batter purely, and we saw what he did in the T20 series and how he can take the game away from the opposition when he is in full flow,” Kohli said.

Pakistan, on the other hand, has already announced its 12-member squad that will take on India on Sunday.