Hardik Pandya, India's stand-in captain for the first ODI against Australia to be held on Friday, backed the bowlers in the series to do very well in the absence of pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah.
With the ODI World Cup to be held later in the year, Bumrah's absence since last year has emerged to be a huge cause of concern for the Indian team. For the series against Australia, India have fast bowlers in Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Umran Malik, Jaydev Unadkat and Hardik himself along with Shardul Thakur.
"Jassi (Jasprit Bumrah) hasn't been around for quite some time now. The bowling group, which we have been doing a pretty decent job. They're all experienced now considering the number of games they have played."
"Having Jassi makes a massive difference which we all know what he brings, but to be very honest, we aren't much bothered because the guys who have taken role of Jassi, I am quite confident they'll be doing very well. As a core group, it gives us good confidence and not be worried about what else we can do," said Hardik in the pre-match press conference.
Apart from Bumrah, middle-order batter Shreyas Iyer is unavailable due to the recurrence of a lower back injury. "There's no timeline (for Iyer's return). We have to hope for the best and wish him a speedy recovery. I have been in that situation where back could be a problem, and the impact, I don't think so."
"We'll miss him but we will start slowly and have to find solutions if he isn't around. If he is, he is of course welcome. There's a lot of time to think about how we can go forward," added Hardik.
After the ODIs against Australia end on March 22, all players will go to join their respective IPL teams for the tournament from March 31 to May 28, which will be followed by the World Test Championship final from June 7-11 at The Oval, where India will face Australia. Hardik was quick in saying the players are well aware of managing their workloads during the IPL.
"We all are professionals and this is not the first time we are playing the IPL. This is going to be my ninth or 10th season and almost everyone has been around for far too long. Playing for the country is a different honour and pride so that does not even come into question."
"To be very honest, for the first time, I had to think about this question because I don't think any individual has got this thought of motivating anyone more because the IPL is around. IPL is IPL and how we take it series-by-series, even the IPL will be the same."
Hardik also backed the strength and conditioning staff in managing the workload of players during a busy time. "That is not even my call. We have to have tremendous amount of faith in our S&Cs (Strength and Conditioning). I am a guy who trusts his team. These calls of workload, who should play when, who should not play that is completely on guys who are professionals and it is their call."
"All these guys are confident if they miss out on some matches, then they miss out. It's okay. That's the confidence we have. If someone misses out because of workload management, this management has shown confidence and trust in the players in the past. I think that's the reason players who have gone out and have made comebacks with a lot of security. In a team environment, it makes a big difference."
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