Many people were upset that middle-order batsman Sanju Samson and tearaway pacer Umran Malik did not get a chance to play in any of the two games in the bilateral series when India announced their playing eleven for the third T20I against New Zealand in a rain-hit tied match at McLean Park in Napier on Tuesday.
When asked why players like Samson and Umran, in addition to Shubman Gill and Kuldeep Yadav, weren’t given playing time in the series that India won 1-0 and had started with a washout, captain Hardik Pandya acknowledged that it’s difficult to leave them out of the starting lineup but added that players are aware it’s not personal when they aren’t selected.
It’s not difficult, but how you approach it matters. For me, it’s easy because I have a same equation with each participant. He is aware that it’s not personal when I can’t decide on a player. It has to do with the circumstances. I have always surrounded myself with people because I am a people person.
So I’ll be available for everyone who needs me. Everyone is aware that my doors are always open for them to stop by and talk to me if they are experiencing anything because I can relate, Pandya stated in the post-game press conference.
Many would have believed that Samson may be given a run in the T20I matches against New Zealand because India’s usual top three of captain Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and KL Rahul were absent. But it never materialised. Pandya claimed he could emphasise by imagining how the individuals seated on the bench must be feeling.
“If they are choosing not to participate, for instance Sanju Samson, we wanted to play him but for whatever reason we were unable to force them to do so. However, I can put myself in their position and empathise with their emotions. Whatever one may say, it is challenging as a cricket player. It is challenging when you are a member of the Indian team but do not consistently have a chance to play in the starting XI.
“I can say whatever I want, but in the end, they will just be words. They will still find it challenging to deal with. But if I can keep saying that and cultivate a positive atmosphere, the players will have the freedom to come and talk to me or the coach if they’re feeling down. I believe there won’t be a problem if I continue to be the captain because it is in my character and behaviour to ensure that everyone is together.”
Pandya continued by saying that with a three-match series, it was impossible to give everyone a chance to play, so all he could do was focus on what the team needed, like giving India more bowling options.
“At this level, what people are saying outside doesn’t really matter. First off, here is my team. The team will be chosen by the coach (on this tour, VVS Laxman), me. Everyone will have a chance, there is plenty of time, and when they do, they will have a long run. But given that this was a brief series, it’s challenging. There would have been more opportunities for players if the series had been longer.
“I don’t believe in chop and change, and I won’t in the future either. It was a brief series. Therefore, it was straightforward, and I had to follow the team’s needs. I wanted a sixth bowling option, for instance. During this tour, we acquired that.
Deepak Hooda bowled, and if other hitters contributed as much with the ball as he did. T20 cricket will eventually offer a lot of options. Even when things are not going your way in a game, you can still control the outcome by bringing in new bowlers and surprising the batters.