Former Indian cricketer turned commentator Aakash Chopra has raised questions over the exclusion of Hardik Pandya in the Indian squad for the upcoming T20I series against New Zealand. Aakash Chopra feels that Hardik didn’t need a rest as he doesn’t play Test cricket and hasn’t bowled a single ball in the IPL 2021 either.
On Tuesday, the BCCI named a 16-member Indian squad for a 3-match T20i series between India and New Zealand, which will kickstart from November 17. While India’s star opener Rohit Sharma has been named as India’s new T20I skipper for the upcoming series. KL Rahul has been appointed as vice-captain of the team.
The 16-member squad of Team India will be without the likes of stars Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, among others, who have been rested for the T20Is. However, another name that was missing from the squad was Hardik Pandya.
Talking about the exclusion of Hardik Pandya from the squad, Aakash Chopra mentioned that the decision has raised a lot of questions. He said:
“It was fair to give Kohli, Shami, Jadeja and Bumrah a rest but what about Hardik Pandya? Did he need that rest? Or is he axed? He doesn’t play Test cricket, didn’t bowl in the IPL as well and, in the T20 World Cup, he didn’t do anything in the last two games,”
Further, talking about the squad, Chopra opined that having 5 openers in the squad would benefit neither the individual nor the team. He said:
“There are too many openers in the squad. There is a fundamental flaw in our system and I’m going to highlight this. In the future, the team should, especially in T20s, pick players for the available slots and where the respective players have scored runs. Considering the IPL performance is a good thing, but if you’re saying the highest run-scoring opener to play at No.5 for India, he cannot perform equally well.”
“There are 5 openers in the squad for the 3-match series. Moreover, Rahul and Rohit will certainly play unless the team wins the first two matches and then allows them to rest for the dead-rubber.”
He also opined that the selectors have named too many openers in the 16-member squad. Team India has also selected IPL sensations Venkatesh Iyer, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Avesh Khan, and Harshal Patel. The team also marks the return of Yuzvendra Chahal, who was axed from the T20 World Cup squad of India. Speaking about these interesting picks, he said:
“Siraj, Ruturaj, Avesh and Harshal are the four brilliant picks in the squad. I am left with one question and that is over Venkatesh Iyer. He’s been phenomenal and there’s no doubt about it. But Chetan Sakariya was also brilliant 6 months back when you selected him for the Sri Lanka tour. And now after 6 months, he’s not in your scheme of things.”
“So that discontinuity and inconsistency in selection leaves me confused and flummoxed. And Venky Iyer, as good as he is, has played just 7 games in the IPL that too as an opener. And there are already 4 openers,”