Wellington: India’s Twenty20 captain Hardik Pandya on Wednesday dismissed Michael Vaughan’s criticism of his side, saying they have nothing to prove on their New Zealand tour despite a disappointing World Cup campaign.
Pandya will captain India for the first of three T20s starting in Wellington on Friday with Shikhar Dhawan then taking over the captaincy for the three One Day Internationals that follow.
India were dumped out of the T20 World Cup in the semi-finals last Thursday by eventual winners England, whose former captain Vaughan accused the Indian team of regularly failing to convert their considerable talent into titles.
“India are the most underperforming white-ball team in history,” Vaughan wrote in his column for the Telegraph.
India last won the ODI World Cup as hosts back in 2011, but Pandya dismissed Vaughan’s comments.
“When you don’t do well, people will have their opinion, which we respect, but at (the) international level, we don’t have anything to prove to anyone,” Pandya told reporters in Wellington.
The all-rounder and his vice-captain Rishabh Pant are the new Indian stars tipped to take over from regular skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, both rested for the New Zealand tour.
Umran Malik to bolster bowling
India’s head coach Rahul Dravid is also taking a break with VVS Laxman, head of their National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, in charge.
Nevertheless, India have included new batting sensation Suryakumar Yadav, who can hit the ball to all parts of the ground with an array of shots.
Speedster Umran Malik has been added to bolster the bowling, which has recently failed to fire in white-ball matches and the World Cup.
“The main boys are not here, but we have a new bunch — new guys with lots of excitement and energy,” added Pandya.
He sees the New Zealand tour as a good way to work off any World Cup frustrations.
“Obviously, there is the disappointment of the World Cup, but we need to cope with it just like successes: move forward and rectify the mistakes we made so we don’t repeat them.”
Roadmap starts now
Pandya, has asked his teammates to make the most of the series against New Zealand to cement their position in the side with two World Cups looming in the next two years.
Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah remains sidelined with a back injury, which kept him out of the World Cup.
“Next T20 World Cup is in two years’ time … The roadmap starts now,” all-rounder Pandya told reporters ahead of Friday’s series opener in Wellington.
“Also the (ODI) World Cup is there in India next (year), it’s a different format … than what we’re going to play in the next three games but it’s an important series for a lot of the boys.
Strong case going forward
“Eventually, if they do well here, they will be able to put a strong case going forward.”
While India would be low on experience against Kane Williamson’s team, Pandya said he was looking forward to leading a young bunch.
“Obviously, the main boys are not here but at the same time, the players who are already are, they have also been playing for India for one and one-and-half years now,” said the 29-year-old.
“New bunch, new guys with a lot of excitement and energy. It’s going to be quite exciting.” Shikhar Dhawan will lead India in the three one-day internationals that follow the T20 matches. (Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Bradley Perrett)