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File image of Harbhajan Singh© YouTube

Team India suffered a major blow during their previous ODI World Cup 2023 match against Bangladesh as their vice-captain Hardik Pandya picked up an ankle injury. The star all-rounder limped off the pitch and was monitored by team physio. However, the BCCI on Friday announced that Hardik will be missing out on India’s next match against New Zealand, which will be played in Dharamsala on Sunday, October 22. Hardik’s absence has now put the team management in dilemma as they now have to find new combinations for the match against the Blackcaps.

Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh has come up with a suggestion for the hosts as he stated that the Rohit Sharma-led side should include the likes of Mohammed Shami and Suryakumar Yadav, in place of Shardul Thakur and Ravichandran Ashwin.

“It’s a big issue for India if Hardik Pandya is not fit. He sets our combination and if he doesn’t play then you will have to change it. You can either play Ishan Kishan or Suryakumar Yadav as a pure batter. We are playing Shardul Thakur because of his all-rounder abilities. I think you should bring Mohammed Shami in his place as he can give you solid 10 overs,” Harbhajan told Aaj Tak.

Both Shami and Surya are yet to play their first match while Ashwin has played India’s opening game against Australia in the ongoing World Cup. Thakur has featured in three matches with as many wickets to his name.

Talking about Hardik, the all-rounder got injured during the ninth over of Bangladesh’s innings, where he tried to stop a shot by Litton Das with his right leg. He is likely to join the team in Lucknow, ahead of India’s match against England on Sunday, October 29.

“Team India vice-captain Hardik Pandya sustained an injury to his left ankle while fielding on his own bowling during India’s match against Bangladesh at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune. The all-rounder was taken for scans and is advised rest. He will be under the constant supervision of the BCCI Medical Team. He will not be taking the flight to Dharamsala with the team on 20th October and will now join the team directly in Lucknow where India play England,” BCCI said in a statement.

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