Ireland vs India | Hardik Pandya reveals why Ruturaj Gaikwad didn’t open in first T20I: A niggle in his calf

Indian captain Hardik Pandya has revealed why Ruturaj Gaikwad didn’t open for India in the first T20I against Ireland, saying that the right-handed batter had a niggle in his calf and the player’s well-being was more important.

India secured a comfortable seven-wicket win over Ireland in the rain-curtailed match on Sunday. Set a target of 109 to win in 12 overs, the visitors chased down the total with 2.4 overs to spare. An interesting thing in the innings was not seeing Gaikwad come in to bat, as Deepak Hooda opened with Ishan Kishan. Hooda went on to score a match-winning knock of 47 from 29 balls.

Pandya has now revealed in the post-match press conference that the 25-year-old had a niggle in his calf and said that he wasn’t ok with sending the Maharashtra batter to open.

“Rutu had a niggle in his calf. We had the choice of taking a risk and sending him in [to open], but I was not okay with it. A player’s well-being is more important, and [I thought] we’ll be able to manage what happens in the match.

“It was quite simple after that, there wasn’t much of a decision to make; whatever our [batting-order] numbers were, we all went up one spot, and it wasn’t a big headache. We wanted to make sure we weren’t taking any chances with Rutu,” said Pandya.

The Indian captain also talked about debutant Umran Malik’s performance. Malik had an indifferent day and the skipper said it is important to back the youngster and give him time. Pandya also said he wants the pacer to enjoy the moment as a debut only happens once.

“When you play for India for the first time, and the journey he has taken, it’s important to give such a bowler and such a talent time. Whether it was a good day or a bad day is irrelevant. For him, just to play for India is itself a very big thing, and that is something which I’m very happy for, [irrespective] of how the result went, good or bad, it’s okay.”

“It’s part and parcel of the game, but at the same point of time, from here he’ll only get better, the more matches he plays, and it’s a big thing for him to play for India, for anyone to play for India. I want to let him enjoy this moment because it doesn’t come every time. A debut happens only once,” said Pandya.

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