Cricket-Pandya working on bowling return after sparkling in Sydney

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Cricket-Pandya working on bowling return after sparkling in Sydney

By Nick Mulvenney

SYDNEY, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Hardik Pandya's batting was a big positive for India in the first one-day international against Australia on Saturday and the erstwhile allrounder also had some good news about his bowling after the 66-run loss.

The 27-year-old high scored for the tourists with a confident 76-ball innings of 90 at Sydney Cricket Ground, hammering seven fours and four sixes to keep India in the contest deep into the match.

A lower back injury required surgery after ending his 2019-20 season prematurely and Pandya has not bowled in a match since, leaving India short of a sixth option to take the ball for a few overs.

With World Twenty20 tournaments coming up in 2021 and 2022, as well as a 50-overs World Cup in 2023, India will need to fill the allrounder role sooner rather than later and Pandya suggested he might yet be ready to fit the bill.

"It is a process," Pandya said. "I am looking at a long-term goal where I want to be 100% of my bowling capacity for the most important games. The World Cups are coming. More crucial series are coming. Whenever it is required.

"I am thinking as a long-term plan, not short term where I exhaust myself. I can't tell you exactly when I am going to bowl but ... in the nets, I am bowling.

"It is just that I am not game-ready ... It is all about confidence and the skill has to be at an international level."

Pandya said having an allrounder was essential for the balance of any modern international team in limited overs cricket.

"It is always going to be difficult when you go with five bowlers," he said.

"When someone is having an off day you don't have someone to fulfil the quota. More than injury, the sixth bowler's role is when someone among the five bowlers is having a bad day."

The second of the three one-dayers is at the same ground on Sunday.

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