On Friday (May 7), the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced a jumbo 20-man squad for Virat Kohli & Co.’s forthcoming assignments in Tests; i.e. the much-awaited ICC World Test Championship final — versus New Zealand — followed by the five-match Test series in England.
While the squad comprised all the big names such as Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, and the likes, it had no mention of all-rounder Hardik Pandya. With Hardik not bowling a lot in limited-overs (he didn’t bowl a single over for Mumbai Indians (MI) in IPL 2021), the 27-year-old has lost his spot in whites.
Regarding Hardik’s omission, former Indian opener-turned-commentator Aakash Chopra made a bold claim that he won’t be a part of the Test squad for long, till the time he doesn’t give the management the required faith as a handy bowler as well. Since his back issues, Hardik is struggling to manage his workload and is far away from full-fitness to bowl long spells in Test cricket.
Chopra said on his YouTube channel, “One thing is certain that if he is not there in the WTC final, it’s fine but if his name is not there even for the five Tests against England, it’s clear that Hardik Pandya may not be seen in Test cricket for a long while.
“We all felt Hardik Pandya’s name will surely be there. It is obvious that if he has to play Test cricket anywhere then England, South Africa and Australia are the places where you will need Hardik Pandya the medium pacer. There is an issue with his bowling. The captain also said sometime back that they are managing his workload, so that we can keep him safe for Test cricket,” said Chopra.
Chopra concluded, “The next day itself Hardik had given a statement that he does not want to play Test cricket at the moment because the situation of his back is very bad and he doesn’t want to bowl. So, this is a statement on Hardik Pandya’s immediate Test career that he will not be considered now, which is completely understandable if he is not bowling.”