Off The Field

Aakash Chopra defends Hardik Pandya getting Grade A contract by BCCI

Written by Mohan Sharma

Former India cricketer, Aakash Chopra, backed the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s decision to give Hardik Pandya a central contract. The BCCI announced the list of centrally contracted players for 2023-24 on February 28, Wednesday. Hardik was included in the Grade A category and the likes of Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan were denied contracts.

While speaking on his YouTube channel, he reckoned that Hardik cannot be punished for not playing first-class cricket, given he has not been contesting for a spot in India’s Test squad.

“Hardik Pandya’s case is very simple. Why would you punish him if he has not made a mistake? He is not playing red-ball cricket. That ambition or aspiration does not exist anymore. He has not said that as such, but the truth is that he is not available at all for any Test series,” Chopra said on his YouTube Channel.

“So if you are not at all auditioning for Tests, no one will ask you to play first-class cricket. Why would you play four-day games when you don’t have that much strength in your body to bowl so many overs and have injury problems? So why should he play – fair play,” Chopra added.

Chopra also gave a chronological reasoning for the all-rounder’s unavailability for domestic cricket in the shorter formats. He acknowledged Hardik’s injury concerns and pointed out that the all-rounder never made himself unavailable. Hence, Hardik’s case can’t be compared to that of Kishan and Iyer.

“Let’s try to understand the chronology slightly. It will just clear up your mind why a different rule has been kept for him and why it is wrong to include him with Ishan and Shreyas. He got injured during the World Cup, that was October-November,” Chopra explained.

“The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy was over in October-November. He was playing the World Cup for India at that time. The last match that Baroda played in the Vijay Hazare Trophy was on 5th December.”He was not fit and available. He wasn’t practising anywhere but was recovering from his injury in the NCA,” he added.

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Mohan Sharma