India were handed a thrashing by New Zealand in the first One-Day International (ODI) in Auckland and were criticised for not playing a sicth bowler.They rectified that by bringing in Deepak Hooda in place of Sanju Samson and in a like-for-like replacement, they also brought in Deepak Chahar for Shardul Thakur.
However, former India fast bowler Ashish Nehra is baffled by this call and reckons Hooda should not be the sixth bowling option and has called on the management to treat Chahar as that option given that there is no Hardik Pandya.
“I hope they haven't picked Deepak Hooda for his bowling. You have Washington Sundar, yes, he bowled well, picked up a few wickets in the T20Is. He's your sixth option, but not a great sixth option. Two changes India have made today, first thing, I don't feel two wrongs make a right because it's not that Shardul Thakur hasn't done well. But before Thakur it should have been Deepak Chahar. Now you have gone with Thakur and it is harsh to drop after one game,” Nehra told the broadcasters.
Nehra is however not concerned with the fact that Samson was missing from the XI given that he was not part of the T20 World Cup squad, with Hooda preferred ahead of him. But Nehra is worried by the fact that Hooda is slowly falling out of the reckoning.
“Even if you see Sanju Samson, I would have played Hooda ahead of Samson because he was part of the World Cup squad and suddenly he is nowhere. So it's difficult for Hooda as well as Thakur," Nehra explained.
“Bowling wise - two debutants, then Sundar and Thakur, who has played a lot of T20 cricket but not a lot of ODI cricket lately, and then Chahal. Five bowling options is okay but you should definitely have a sixth option. But that sixth-bowling option for me is not Hooda, it's Deepak Chahar.
"You can go with four pacers because there is no Hardik Pandya, and then you can pick two spinner. Sundar is a good-enough batter and then you have Thakur and Chahar. You have to hold the fort somewhere and not keep adjusting all the time.”
Samson has done little wrong since making his ODI debut last year. He has slammed 330 runs at 66 to go with a strike-rate of 104.76 in 10 innings. However, he is often seen warming the bench given that he does not provide the side with an extra bowling option.
Hooda, on the other hand, has not done anything noteworthy with the bat, but has more often than not gone through his overs not conceding much, as his economy rate of 4.76 depicts.
With Nehra picking Chahar ahead of Hooda and backing Shardul too to feature in the side ensures that India have six genuine bowling options and also batting till nine. However, it could prove to be quite one-dimensional, which perhaps would have been taken into consideration before slotting in Hooda.