The Sunil Joshi-led national selection committee was reportedly not interested in picking Hardik Pandya and T Natarajan in the ODI and T20I squads for the recently-concluded series against Australia. Both Hardik Pandya and Natarajan finished the series as two of India’s top performers.
Hardik Pandya was the Man of the Series for his stunning performances with the bat in the T20Is. Despite not being able to bowl, he made his mark with the bat. His unbeaten match-winning knock of 42 in the second T20I was one of the best knocks of his career. Prior to that, the allrounder had played knocks of 90 and 92 in the ODIs.
On the other hand, Natarajan made his debut ODI and T20I debuts during the tour and impressed straightaway. After picking up two wickets on his ODI debut, he scalped six wickets in the three-match T20I series at an economy rate of just 6.91 when almost all the other bowlers were being taken to the cleaners.
Selectors were against selecting the duo:
Had the selectors not changed their minds at the final moment, Team India could have played both the series without Hardik Pandya and T Natarajan. According to a report in the Times of India, the selectors were not convinced about picking Hardik Pandya in the white-ball teams since he was not bowling.
Natarajan, on the other hand, was supposed to only bowl in the nets. In fact, the pacer was initially picked as a net bowler before injuries to other players saw him being named in both the squads. According to the report, the Indian team management was surprised by the selectors’ decision as Pandya had scored heavily in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
“The selectors, at least some, believed he can’t go because he can’t bowl. It was a surprise they didn’t see the kind of batting form he was in. It took some convincing to have Pandya included because if it was left to certain individuals, he was unlikely to go,” the news outlet quoted sources as saying.
“These are the kind of decisions that show if one is capable of looking at the bigger picture. Right now, whether he can bowl or not, Hardik is indispensable in the white-ball format. Between now and the T20 World Cup, these kind of selection decisions will be very crucial,” sources added.