Former India opener Wasim Jaffer has recently named a player who will be ahead of star all-rounder Hardik Pandya in the selection race for the T20 World Cup 2022, scheduled to be played in Australia later this year.
Jaffer’s comments came after India’s 17-run triumph over West Indies in Kolkata that saw them clinching an emphatic 3-0 clean sweep over the men from the Caribbean.
Notably, Pandya made himself unavailable for selection post India’s exit from T20 World Cup 2021 to focus on his bowling and overall fitness. The all-rounder has since missed India’s series against New Zealand, South Africa and West Indies. He will also not be part of the upcoming T20I and Test series against Sri Lanka at home.
Now the question arises who will fit in Pandya’s shoes in the T20 World Cup 2022. Speaking on the same, Jaffer picked newly-joined all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer over Pandya.
The 27-year old was terrific in the recently concluded T20I series against West Indies. In the 3rd and final T20I, he slammed 35 runs off 19 balls to help India post a strong total of 184 runs on the board before taking two wickets with the ball to help the hosts defend the total.
“At this point of time, I feel he’s a little bit ahead because you don’t know Hardik Pandya whether he’s bowling now or how fit he is. Obviously, how the IPL goes for Hardik Pandya will play a very key role, but at this point of time, Venkatesh Iyer is ahead of Hardik Pandya,” said Jaffer as quoted by ESPNcricinfo.
The Mumbaikar said he was amazed at how Venkatesh adapted to his role for men in blue where he is seen as a finisher as opposed to his IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders where he opened in the previous season.
“I am surprised with how good he’s playing as a No. 6 batter. We have seen him as an opener, but for him to come out and get adapted so well at No. 6 and finish games is outstanding. Plus, the way he’s bowled as well, got a couple of important wickets. He definitely gives [India] an edge going into the World Cup,” added Jaffer.
Venkatesh Iyer has been named for the three-match Sri Lanka series in the T20I format which is scheduled to start from February 24.