India all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been rested for the Test series against Sri Lanka, starting next week in Kolkata
Mumbai: The Indian fans will be denied the pleasure of watching rising all-rounder Hardik Pandya slamming the Sri Lankan bowlers for sixes in the three-Test series. Or, his game-changing spells of pace bowling.
Having realised his dream of playing in Tests in Sri Lanka earlier this year and notching up 50 in his maiden innings and a century (108) in his last, Pandya has been rested for the series against the same opponents starting on November 16 in Kolkata and followed by Nagpur (Nov 24-28) and Delhi (Dec 2-6).
BCCI, in its release on Friday, said: “All-India Senior Selection Committee in consultation with the Indian team management has decided to rest all-rounder Hardik Pandya for the upcoming Paytm Test series against Sri Lanka. Mr Pandya was named in the squad for the first two Tests.
“Considering Mr Pandya’s heavy recent workload, the decision was made to negate any possibility of a major injury concern. Mr Pandya will undergo a period of strength at conditioning at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.”
Since India’s last tour of Sri Lanka in July-August, India have played in five ODIs and as many T20 Internationals in the space of about eight weeks, and Pandya has played in all of them, making immense contributions with either the bat or the ball in India winning all the limitedovers series against Australia and New Zealand.
The idea is to preserve Pandya for greater challenges that India will face next year, starting with the tour of South Africa in January. By resting Pandya, in what would have been only his second Test series to keep him fresh for overseas challenges, shows how crucial he is in India’s scheme of things.
India’s bowling coach Bharat Arun has often spoken about monitoring the workload of the bowlers not only in matches but also in the practice sessions.
Pandya has been India’s game changer with either bat or ball and has proved his mettle in the short span that he has been with the Indian team, something that the nation has been searching for long. Be it his ability to provide the quick runs to force an early declaration in Tests, or to get those important runs in the middle overs in ODIs, or the capacity to bowl a full quota of 10 overs and providing crucial breakthroughs with raw pace even on flat tracks, Pandya seems to have become indispensable.
The 24-year-old Baroda all-rounder may not yet be of the calibre of Kapil Dev but he is providing what captain Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri ask of him. Time and again.
Baroda Ranji Trophy coach Atul Bedade said that the faith Kohli and Shastri have in Pandya has been vital for his rise in international cricket.
“Hardik is a fearless cricketer. He does not look at the reputation of the opposition. He has been a terrific run-getter in the shorter version and taking that form into the longer format has been the secret to his success. He is looking to improve day by day,” Bedade told DNA here on Friday.
Pandya’s versatility has given the Indian team many options. Bedade, a former India limited-overs hard-hitting left-handed batsman, said: “Hardik has shown that he can fit in any position from No 4. Any captain will bank on him, would love to put him in his squad. He is the sort of batsman who will help the team in any circumstance.”
The 51-year-old Bedade who played in 11 ODIs in 1994, said that Hardik has benefitted from the good bunch of support staff that the Indian team has. “Ravi is a great motivator, the Jambavan of Indian cricket. Hardik has benefitted a lot from this support system,’ Bedade said.
Skipper Kohli has always spoken high about Pandya among his other trusted team-mates. The most recent example has been when Pandya told his captain “mein daal doonga, aap tension mat lo
(I will bowl, you don’t worry)” in the rain-affected third T20I against New Zealand four days ago is the kind of confidence that the captain expects from his team-mates.
And Pandya, who was struck on his hand in his follow through in that final over, delivered. “As a captain, when you get that kind of confidence from your bowlers, you aren’t left with much to say,” Kohli had said after the match.
Pandya’s ability to generate pace and bounce on flat tracks has made him stand apart, making Kohli play an additional batsman or an extra bowler according to the situations.
An adequately-rested Pandya is important to India overseas. Like Bedade said: “They will be a good opportunity for him to prove on good surfaces where the pitches will be quick and the weather will be different.”