Dharamsala: Backing debutant Hardik Pandya to become one of the premier fast bowlers for next year`s Champions Trophy in England, India`s limited-overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has heaped praise on his side`s bowling performance after their emphatic six-wicket win over New Zealand in the opening ODI in Dharamsala last evening.
Dhoni took everyone by surprise by handing Pandya the new ball ahead of Jasprit Bumrah, but the all-rounder soon showed that the skipper took the right decision as he finished with the figures of three for 31.
Reflecting on his decision to select Pandya to exploit the new ball, Dhoni insisted that the 23-year-old has the ability to swing the ball even on wickets where other bowlers could not manage that kind of swing.
"Our thinking was to use him as one of the three seamers and to give him a chance to exploit the new ball. The reason being we all felt he is quite deceptive. He can bowl quick. He has got movement and can swing the ball even on wickets where some other bowlers don`t get that kind of swing. He is somebody who can get some purchase of the wicket," he said.
"We just have eight games before Champions Trophy. So we would like to see how he (Pandya) reacts under different conditions and situations. How quickly he can adapt to the conditions. If he keeps on performing like what he did in this match I don`t see why we won`t pick him as the first of the three fast bowlers," he added.
The wicketkeeper-batsman was also full of praise for other fast bowlers, Umesh Yadav and Bumrah."Also Bumrah is very good in the middle overs where he can give me wickets and also at the death. So, if I can save his overs, I can use him at any point of time," stressed Dhoni.
Meanwhile, Dhoni believes the ongoing five-match series against the Black Caps is a good opportunity for Umesh to showcase how much he has improved.
"I think Umesh bowled good lines. He has shown consistency in the last one and one-and-half years. He is swinging the ball. He is bowling in the right areas. So I feel it`s a good opportunity for him to showcase his talent, show as of how much he has improved. Also looking at Champions Trophy in mind, England is where bowlers will get a bit of swing. So if he (Umesh) can hit the right areas with pace, he can create trouble for the batsmen," Dhoni said about Umesh, who chipped in with two wickets.
The skipper further said that part-time bowlers like Rohit Sharma and Kedar Jadhav have a pivotal role to play in building the combination of the team.
"With five bowlers it is very important for part time spinners to bowl. Unless you give them more opportunity they don`t take it very seriously. It is like throwing them into the deep end of the pool. If you go with only five bowlers and one of them has had a bad day. This is where Rohit and Kedar`s contribution will be important because both of them can bowl off spin. We have seen Kedar with this performance on wicket where they can be a bit more assistance. So, we can continue a bit more. So, hopefully he turns out to be a good all-rounder for us, someone who can bowl spin very nicely," Dhoni aid.
India, which have now taken a 1-0 lead in the series, will play their second match against Kane Williamson-led side on Thursday at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi.