'Half-fit Hardik not good. Drop Iyer': Akhtar's thoughtful playing XI advice – Hindustan Times

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Rohit Sharma and Co. hardly missed the services of seamer Hardik Pandya as veteran pacer Mohammed Shami joined forces with Jasprit Bumrah to spark a batting collapse of England in India’s previous outing at the ICC World Cup 2023 on Sunday. In the same encounter, Shreyas Iyer failed to fire for India as England pacer Chris Woakes cashed in on the longstanding short-ball struggles of the Indian batter.
Iyer only managed to score 4 off 16 balls although India managed to defeat England in the low-scoring encounter at Lucknow. Reflecting on India’s performance in the ongoing ICC World Cup, legendary Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar said that Rohit and Co. are just ‘five good days’ away from winning the showpiece event at home. Speaking on his YouTube channel, Akhtar lauded the Jasprit Bumrah-starrer side for crushing defending world champions England by 100 runs.
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“People used to say India win matches with batting. See today, they are doing it with bowling as well. They had to defend 229 and won by 100 runs! That’s a huge thing! Hats off to the Indian bowling, especially Bumrah, very very smart fast bowler,” Akhtar said.
“India now need five good days to win the World Cup. If they go the final unbeaten and win the title, it will be a world record. I have never seen that, winning the World Cup without losing (a single match). I hope they don’t have bad luck in the semifinal or final,” Akhtar added.
Table-toppers India are tipped to become the first side to seal their berth for the semi-final stage of the ICC World Cup. India will meet Sri Lanka, South Africa and the Netherlands in its remaining three games of the round-robin phase. The hosts are the only unbeaten side at the 2023 World Cup. Talking about India’s lineup for its next World Cup match, Akhtar suggested that Rohit and Co. should avoid dropping any pacer from the playing XI against Sri Lanka.
“A half-fit Hardik Pandya is not good for the Indian bowling attack because they may drop one bowler (to bring him in)…You can drop (Shreyas) Iyer if Hardik comes in, but don’t drop anyone from your bowling unit,” Akhtar opined. Rohit’s India will meet Sri Lanka in match No. 33 of the ICC World Cup 2023 at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.
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