The return of Hardik Pandya promises to strengthen India’s allrounder department, and former India opener Kris Srikkanth, in particular, is keen to see how the allrounder performs on his comeback to the national team. Srikkanth, a former chairman of selectors, feels the team management should persist with two allrounders – Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja – playing them at No. 6 and 7 respectively to get the best out of them in the 50-over format. Also Read - Hardik Pandya Shares New Fitness Video During Quarantine Period Amid Coronavirus Lockdown | WATCH VIDEO

“In my opinion, Pandya should be made a permanent No. 6 and Jadeja at seven. With four specialist bowlers to follow, the captain finally goes in with six full time bowling options. Floaters in the batting order make sense once in a while and help surprise opponents, but the history of ODI cricket clearly shows that sides with a settled top-order are always more successful,” Srikkanth wrote in Times of India Thursday. Also Read - COVID-19: KL Rahul Plays With Pet During Coronavirus-Enforced Lockdown, Hardik Pandya Reacts | WATCH VIDEO

“Once Pandya and Jadeja are given clear roles, this team should be able to get back to winning ways. India have not been consistent, especially in 50-over cricket. The reasons are endless, but Pandya and Jadeja’s presence should ensure some balance is restored. It is absolutely crucial that the team management provides the duo enough backing to ensure they get the best out of them. The top-order looks fairly settled with KL Rahul (No.4), Shreyas Iyer (No.5) and Manish Pandey as the back-up option.” Also Read - COVID-19: Hardik Pandya Has 'Fun Session With my Babies', Posts Picture With Natasa Stankovic, Krunal And Pankhuri After Workout | SEE PIC

India were hurt in the absence of a quality allrounder against New Zealand as they crumbled to a 0-3 defeat in ODIs and this is where Srikkanth feels the presence of Pandya could make a difference. Reckoning that this may be the best squad that the selectors have put together, the ODI series, followed by the IPL shall determine the Indian squad that makes the T20 World Cup squad later this year.

“The stunning reversal in the ODIs against New Zealand further proved the importance of having a genuine all-rounder batting at No.6. The return of Hardik Pandya is good news as it adds strength to all three departments. Hopefully, the youngster from Baroda makes the most of the series against South Africa,” Srikkanth added.

“The three ODIs and the IPL should be able to tell us the 15 that would travel to Australia for the T20 World Cup. Barring Rohit Sharma, this is the best squad the selectors could have assembled. With a keen eye on workload management, you are bound to miss a player or two now and then.”

Besides Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar Bhuvneshwar is also making his return to top-flight cricket after an injury lay-off kept him out nearly three months. He suffered a groin injury during the West Indies series in October and was even hurting from a hamstring strain during the World Cup. India have not beaten South Africa in an ODI series at home since getting beat 2-3 by them in 2015 and Srikkanth is keen to see this battle unfold once more.

“Bhuvneshwar’s return from injury provides another option. Not the quickest, Kumar makes it up with prodigious swing and the ability to deliver the yorker at will during the death overs. His inclusion brings variety to the bowling attack,” he said.

“The South Africans are no pushovers and they have always done well in white-ball cricket in India. The hosts would be tested. I am can’t wait to see how Pandya shapes his comeback.”