Hardik Pandya fails fitness test, Vijay Shankar named replacement for India A’s tour of New Zealand

Written by Abhishek Patil

With all-rounder Hardik Pandya’s anticipated return getting delayed after he failed the fitness test, India’s limited overs squads are unlikely to be tinkered with much for the upcoming six-week tour of New Zealand.

Starting January 24, India will be playing five T20 Internationals, three ODIs and two Test matches, and squads for the tour will be picked on Sunday.

Pandya was expected to make the Indian squad after remaining out of action for four months due to a back injury but the all-rounder could not clear the mandatory fitness test, indicating that it will take him more to recover from the surgery he recently had.

India will be playing eight white ball games in New Zealand, and it will be interesting to see if the selectors pick a 16 or 17-member squad, instead of 15.

Pandya was also pulled out of the India A team’s tour of New Zealand on Saturday after he failed mandatory fitness tests in Mumbai. The selectors had picked him in the squad without testing him in the Ranji games.

Tamil Nadu captain Vijay Shankar has been drafted into the India A team and he has already boarded the flight to New Zealand where they will play two 50-over warm-up games, three List A games and two four-day ‘Tests’ against the home A team.

With the India A team’s shadow tour coinciding with the seniors’ visit, it gives the selectors an option to draft players on SOS basis if the need arises.

The selectors will primarily focus on zeroing in on the core for white ball cricket considering that this is a T20 World Cup year.

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Abhishek Patil