Cricket-Pandya dangles World Cup carrots for India's fringe players

FILE PHOTO: Asian Cup - India v Sri Lanka

(Reuters) - India's stopgap 20-overs captain, Hardik Pandya, has asked his team mates to make the most of the limited-overs series against New Zealand to cement their position in the side with two World Cups looming in the next two years.

India rested regular skipper Rohit Sharma, stalwart Virat Kohli and opener KL Rahul for the New Zealand tour following a 10-wicket shellacking by England in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup in Australia.

Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah remains sidelined with a back injury which kept him out of the World Cup.

"Next T20 World Cup is in two years' time .... The roadmap starts now," all-rounder Pandya told reporters ahead of Friday's series opener in Wellington.

"Also the (ODI) World Cup is there in India next (year), it's a different format ... than what we're going to play in the next three games but it's an important series for a lot of the boys.

"Eventually if they do well here, they will be able to put a strong case going forward."

While India would be low on experience against Kane Williamson's team, Pandya said he was looking forward to leading a young bunch.

"Obviously, the main boys are not here but at the same time, the players who are already are, they have also been playing for India for one and one-and-half years now," said the 29-year-old.

"New bunch, new guys with a lot of excitement and energy. It's going to be quite exciting."

Shikhar Dhawan will lead India in the three one-day internationals that follow the T20 matches.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Bradley Perrett)