Cricket fans in India were definitely surprised when the BCCI decided to include Hardik Pandya in the squad for the four-match Test series against England. The series kicks off on the 5th of February at the Chepauk Stadium in Chennai where both the first two matches will be played before moving to the Motera in Ahmedabad.
Hardik Pandya has been an absentee in international red-ball cricket and has also not been bowling due to the back surgery that he had. Former cricketer Deep Dasgupta believes that Hardik was included in the Test squad since there is a lack of domestic red-ball cricket at the moment. Therefore, Pandya isn’t getting much game time and exposure in the longest format of the sport. Deep Dasgupta also stated that he believes Pandya could prove to be pivotal in the finals of the World Test Championship to be played at Lord’s in June.
“One of the reasons he is there is because there is not much domestic cricket happening right now and whatever has been announced is predominantly white-ball cricket. Hardik Pandya becomes very, very important when we start travelling outside.
“At home you might not feel his importance as much because you have spinning all-rounder in Ashwin, Jadeja will be back, Washington Sundar is in, Axar is there but his importance increased 10 folds when you start travelling,” Deep Dasgupta said as quoted by Sportskeeda.
Though the former wicket-keeper batsman is aware that Hardik probably won’t make it to the playing XI for the first Test against England, he is of the opinion that Hardik was picked so that selectors and management can continuously monitor the ease with which he gets back to bowling and also to get him ready for the WTC Finals.
“There is a huge England series coming up, there is a very, very good chance of India qualifying for the World Test Championship finals, that’s where I think Hardik Pandya will be very important. I think his inclusion in the squad is to make sure that his progress is monitored as a bowler.
“So, I don’t think we will see him in the first Test but I think he is there for a very specific reason, to monitor his progress as an all-rounder, as a bowler,” Dasgupta concluded.