• Raina names India’s most important player

    Batsman Suresh Raina has highlighted the importance of all-rounder Hardik Pandya to India’s 2019 World Cup campaign.

    Pandya averages under 30 with the bat and almost 40 with the ball after 45 ODIs – and was key to the Mumbai Indians’ triumphant Indian Premier League campaign earlier this year.

    ‘He can field and bat well, can bowl six or seven crucial overs. He can bat anywhere. He needs to get a lot of confidence from the management to express himself,’ Raina, who wasn’t selected for this year’s World Cup, was quoted as saying by India Today.

    ‘If he can take his IPL confidence to the World Cup, he will be our game-changer. I think he will be the most important player for India in this World Cup. I won’t be surprised if he gets the man of the tournament, should we make the last four.’

    India won the World Cup in 1983 and 2011 – and were runners-up in 2003. Their 2019 campaign will start against South Afriac at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton on 5 June.

    The Proteas and Indians have met 83 times in the intermediate format of the international game. The former have won 46 and the latter 34, with three no-results. Their last meeting was in early 2018 at SuperSport Park in Centurion, where an unbeaten century from captain Virat Kohli completed a five-one series victory for the tourists.

    Photo: Getty Images

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