MSK Prasad, the former Indian chief selector, opines that Hardik Pandya should not be in the Test team unless he is fit to bowl, and backs the squad selected by the current selectors to tour England.
On Friday, the Chetan Sharma-led panel dropped Hardik Pandya, who was part of the squad of the recent home Test series against England but didn’t feature in any of the 4 Tests, for the long tour of the UK which comprises the World Test Championship final against New Zealand, followed by a 5-match Test series versus Joe Root’s side.
Hardik Pandya last played in the 5-day format for India on their previous tour to England, where he took a five-for at Nottingham, back in 2018. He has since been away from the longest format owing to his back injuries.
Hardik Pandya should be in the squad only if he’s bowling: MSK Prasad
MSK Prasad, who played 6 Tests and 17 ODIs during the late 90s, strongly believes that Hardik Pandya would be in the Test squad only if he is fit enough to deliver 12-15 overs in a day, and hence would add balance to the eleven in conditions in England.
Otherwise, Prasad reckons, the Baroda all-rounder is not needed in the longest format considering he doesn’t make a place purely as a batsman in the Test side.
“I have a feeling that they actually asked him not to bowl so that he can play the Test series against England. Maybe they’re preserving him for the WTC final and England Test series. No way he can find a place as a pure batsman, when you have Vihari and the other middle-order guys in the squad,” MSK Prasad told SportsKeeda.
“If at all he’s fit to bowl, only then he should be picked. If he can’t bowl, he shouldn’t be picked – as simple as that. He should be in the squad only if he’s bowling, he will add balance to the side as an all-rounder. He will be a big asset to the side if he bowls those 12-15 overs in a day. That’s what he did in Nottingham in 2018, when he picked a five-wicket haul,” he added.
He didn’t bowl a single ball for the Mumbai Indians in IPL 2020, and in the truncated IPL 2021 as well. The right-hander returned to bowling during the home white-ball matches against England. However, it was reported that he suffered a shoulder niggle during the IPL, and was not deemed fit to bowl further. This also marks a question on his Test career going forward with 3 ICC tournaments in 3 consecutive years.