Sunil Gavaskar backs Hardik Pandya to shine for India at the T20 World Cup despite IPL ‘issues’

Hardik Pandya will be a key player for India at the T20 World Cup (Picture: Getty)

Sunil Gavaskar has backed Hardik Pandya to shine for India at the T20 World Cup despite facing ‘issues’ during the ongoing IPL.

All-rounder Pandya has struggled since replacing Rohit Sharma as captain of Indian Premier League franchise Mumbai Indians.

Mumbai have won five IPL titles – no team has six – but are second from bottom this season with seven defeats from ten games.

Pandya’s form has been underwhelming – the 30-year-old is yet to score a half-century in the tournament and taken just six wickets.

But ex-India captain Gavaskar does not expect the ‘issues’ Pandya is experiencing at the IPL to impact on his T20 World Cup.

India will attempt to become T20 World Cup champions for a second time when the ninth edition of the tournament begins in June.

‘There’s a big difference between playing for your country and playing in the IPL,’ Gavaskar told India Today. ‘Playing for your country just brings out a different energy in every player and Hardik will be a different player.

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar (Picture: Getty)

‘He has had to face a lot of issues in this tournament. He has handled it quite well. So, when he goes overseas and plays for India, he will be in a completely different frame of mind.

‘And that’s going to be a much more positive frame of mind than what we have seen in this tournament. So Hardik will make good contributions with both bat and ball in the World Cup.’

India reached the semi-finals of the last T20 World Cup before being thumped by eventual champions England.

Gavaskar insists Rohit’s side are one of the top ‘contenders’ to lift the trophy in the Caribbean and United States and believes they will benefit from the IPL, which finishes a week before the start of the T20 World Cup.

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‘This Indian team looks a very good team, no question about it,’ he added. ‘They’ve got plenty of experience, they’ve got some real big hitters, they’ve got variety in bowling as well.

‘They are title contenders, without a question. At the international level, sometimes you need a bit of luck but I’m very confident they will compete for the trophy.

‘They’ll go in with good rhythm following the IPL, the bowlers would have bowled a fair bit of overs, the batters will have enough time out in the middle.

‘So, clearly, this team will go with that little break… a week break the tournaments, so they will be a bit refreshed but at the same time not rusty.’

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