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India vs New Zealand: VVS Laxman calls this “utility” All-Rounder as Hardik Pandya’s backup option

After a disappointing exit from the T20 World Cup, the Indian team is ready to tackle New Zealand in the home series starting 17 November. India will first play three T20Is, followed by two Test matches against the first World Test champions. The Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) on Tuesday announced a group of 16 members for the T20I series where Rohit Sharma was given the leadership duties and KL Rahul was named as his deputy in the shortest format. The selection committee also included many new faces in the team that performed brilliantly in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021. Venkatesh Iyer, Harshal Patel, Avesh Khan earned first calls for the national team, while many senior players such as former T20I captain Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja rested.

Former Indian batsman VVS Laxman gave his opinion on the selected team and was delighted to see the IPL performers in the 16-man series for the series against the Blackcaps.

Laxman welcomed the selection of pacemakers Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan into the national team by saying that next year’s T20 World Cup will be played on the jumping Australian fields.

Harshal Patel won the Purple Cap in IPL 2021 where his team Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) finished fourth. The right-arm pacemaker picked up 32 wickets this season, the most by any bowler in an IPL season. Avesh Khan was second on the Purple Cap list with his 24 wickets for Delhi Capitals (DC), who finished third.

“I think they have rewarded the players who did well in the IPL, which is the way forward if one keeps in mind that the World Cup will take place in Australia in one year. I think it is an excellent group, not just in the “Harshal Patel is excellent in the innings … there is Avesh Khan who got a fast pace,” Laxman told Star Sports.

Laxman also weighed in the versatile match Venkatesh Iyer‘s selection that had an impressive second half of IPL 2021. The former Hyderabad batsman said Iyer could be the best versatile utility player and a backup for Hardik Pandya.

Iyer scored 370 runs in 10 games as he opened the innings for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) runners-up. However, Laxman pointed out that Iyer could be batted in the middle order as Rohit, Rahul and Ishan Kishan lead the race for the opening slot.


“I just want someone like Venkatesh Iyer to bat out of his position. India have five openings in that group and you know Ishan Kishan, KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma are your frontrunners for that place. So, Venkatesh Iyer should be fit but not in the top order, ”Laxman added.

“You want him to bat at No. 5 or No. 6, and also hook in with the bowling, probably a few overs or more and get him used to that position. He could be the full-back for Hardik Pandya. You can “Venkatesh Iyer is evolving as a versatile tool,” Laxman added.

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