India clinched the three-match T20I series against New Zealand on Tuesday 1-0. However, many eyebrows were raised at the decision to not include Sanju Samson in the Playing XI for the entire series. Stand-in skipper Hardik Pandya revealed the reason behind the non-selection of his fellow teammate.
Also Read: From Sanju Samson to Dinesh Karthik, here's in depth analysis of stats of current wicket-keepers in 2022
"Sanju Samson is an unfortunate case. We had to play him but for some strategic reason, we couldn't play him," Pandya admitted.
"I can understand that if I stand in his shoes that even if you are continuously benched for India. It is difficult, as much as I speak to them, it's no consolation for not playing, but at the same time, if I keep a healthy atmosphere, it's fine," he added.
Sanju Samson's performance in T20Is so far:
Sanju Samson has played 6 matches in 2022 and has scored 179 runs. His average is 44.75 and he has smashed 1 fifty so far.
Sanju Samson in his previous three T20Is
- IND vs WI - 15 runs (7 August 2022)
- IND vs WI - 30 runs (6 August 2022)
- IND vs IRE - 77 runs (28 June 2022)
Pandya said if he is considered for a leadership role in the future, he will captain the side in his own way and his team will display the brand of cricket he knows the best.
"To be honest, my thing is simple, if I do one match or one series, I will lead the team my way, how I see and perceive the game. Whenever I am given the opportunity, I will always go out and play the brand of cricket I know.
As a unit, we will display my brand. As far as whatever (captaincy) comes in the future, we will see," the Baroda player said.
Apart from Samson, fans also missed watching Umran Malik on the field. But Pandya insisted that there is "enough time" for everyone to get "enough opportunities" and a "long rope".
"Had it been a bigger series and not three games, we could have played them. But I don't believe in chop and change in a short series and going forward also that will be my philosophy," he added.
Pandya further said that he is open to conversations with players who feel bad about his decision and that there is nothing personal.
"It's not difficult to handle the situation where players feel security. I share a cordial rapport with all players and the players I am unable to pick, there is nothing personal and even they know it. It is because of combination I am not able to play them," he said.
"I am a people's man and if anyone feels otherwise, my doors are always open to come and have chat with me. I understand their feelings.
"If players are feeling bad, they can come and speak to me or the coach. Going forward, if I remain the captain, I don't think that will be an issue. My behaviour and nature ensures that we are a close-knit unit."
He was asked how he perceives the views of Sunil Gavaskar or Ravi Shastri, who see in him a long-term captain.
"If people are saying, you feel good about it but till something happens (official announcement), you can't say," Pandya said after the rain-hit third T20