Pandya assures his players he will give them chances and back them to the core

Mumbai: Hardik Pandya — the India captain for the upcoming T20 series against Sri Lanka and who is expected to take over the role on a permanent basis — on Monday assured the young players in his side that he “will back them to the core and will give them all the support that they need to excel” for the national team.

Pandya will be leading a new-look Indian team in the three-T20I series against Sri Lanka starting from the first match at the Wankhede on Tuesday, which will not have the likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, K,L Rahul and Rishabh Pant, all of whom have been rested following the tour of Bangladesh.

It is a totally different squad from the one that Rohit Sharma led to the semi-finals against England with only Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav, Arshdeep Singh and Axar Patel from the playing XI that lost the semis being retained. The selectors have bought in players like Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Umran Malik and Sanju Samson and will be looking forward to seeing how they cope with the challenge.

In a press conference on the eve of the first T20I on Monday, Pandya agreed that the side is different from the T20 World Cup one but said the template would be the same. He also said that he would not change the template much but would rather ask his players to be more expressive and will back them up in that.

“Before the World Cup, I don’t think we did anything wrong. Our template, our approach, everything was the same, It’s just that in the World Cup things did not go the way we wanted (them to), and our approach was not exactly what it was before the World Cup.

“What we have noticed and what we have told the boys is that just go out and express, which they will do and it is up to us how we back them. What we have said is that we are going to back you to the core and they will have full support from my side. I was going to back them because they are the best Indian cricketers in the country and that’s the reason they are here,” Pandya said on Monday.

” So, I have to make them believe that (they are the best), which is a fact as well. So for me, it’s important to ensure how can I make them feel that they are the best in their business. If I can get that thing done and If I can harness that in them, then I don’t think they will have any problem in international cricket and I think they will flourish and they will have amazing careers ahead,” said the 29-year-old all-rounder who was the top-scorer with an unbeaten 63 in the semifinal defeat to England in the T20 World Cup.

Asked how he was going to handle someone like Umran Malik, Pandya said he will ensure that the young pacer from J&K is given enough support that he can flourish.

“Obviously, he’s got pace and everyone knows how exciting a prospect he is. We will give him enough opportunities, we will give him enough backing. We will give him enough support from our side so that he can flourish here,” Pandya said.

About the message he will give to his young bowlers for the Sri Lanka series, Pandya said, “I am going to just ask my bowlers to bowl good balls. The best possible that they can bowl. Playing at the international level, I think they are good enough to bowl there.”

Pandya has newcomers like under-19 player Shivam Mavi and Mukesh Kumar in his squad and both of them will be hoping that they get a chance to play a match.

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