All-rounder Hardik Pandya will not be fit in time for the tour of South Africa later this year. According to Inside Sport, he has been asked to report to the NCA. Pandya will have to undergo rehabilitation and prove his fitness before making his way back into the Indian team.
Pandya was not named in the T20I squad for the recently concluded series against New Zealand. He has not been in contention for the Test side since the England tour in 2018. While he was part of the T20 World Cup, he failed to make an impact despite returning back to bowling. According to a BCCI official, Pandya's inclusion in the squad for the South Africa tour depends on his recovery process at the NCA. He said:
“His recovery from injury will mainly depend on rest. He should be visiting the NCA soon and we will take a call on his inclusion in South Africa tour depending on his fitness.”
Team India are on the lookout for a fast-bowling all-rounder with the absence of a sixth bowling option proving to be a huge drawback. The management experimented with Venkatesh Iyer for the T20I series against New Zealand. The all-rounder is being considered a serious option given the role's importance and the lack of other credible options in the department.
Pandya is nowhere near the required fitness level for Test cricket : Sources
Hardik Pandya's persistent injury issues have seen him lose his place in the Test team as well. He has not bowled across the last two editions of the IPL. Pandya was seen bowling sporadically during England's tour of India and India's tour of Sri Lanka earlier this year. The BCCI official added:
“At this moment, he is no way near the required fitness level for Test cricket. He needs time and we don’t want to rush things like was the case before the World Cup. If he is ready, he will be sent for the ODI and T20 series.”
Players are usually required to complete the full nine yards, which includes solid domestic cricket, to make a potential comeback into the Indian team. But team management sees Pandya as one of the best all-rounders of this generation. Hence, they are happy to make him eligible for selection as long as he can prove his fitness.
The option to play in the upcoming Vijay Hazare trophy is solely up to Pandya, claims the source. The BCCI official stated:
“Playing in Vijay Hazare will be up to his fitness. We have important series coming up and it is better for him to be fit than playing in Hazare. But that is a call that needs to be taken after he is fully fit. At the moment, he is not. If he wants to play, it will be up to him.”
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Team India will tour South Africa for a full-fledged tour starting from December 17. The schedule comprises of 3 Tests, 3 ODIs and 4 T20s which will conclude on January 26.
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