Chief selector Chetan Sharma has strictly said that all-rounder Hardik Pandya will return to the national side only when the selectors are “convinced that he is 100 per cent match fit” and bowling fit.
Chetan Sharma announced the Indian squad for facing Sri Lanka in the upcoming home T20I and Test series. One big name that once again was on everyone’s mind was Hardik Pandya, who is not selected in the squad.
Uncertainties around Hardik Pandya’s fitness and return have been around for the past three months – he hasn’t played a single high-level game since the T20 World Cup in November. Now, with him not selected for the Sri Lanka series, Pandya is expected to be seen straight at the IPL 2022, where he will be leading the Gujarat Titans.
Because of his back injury issues, Pandya hasn’t been bowling full-tilt for a long time. And has been away from the longer formats; his last red-ball game came in 2018.
Chetan Sharma asserted that Pandya has been working on his fitness over the past three months, and make his return to the national squad only if he is fully match- and bowling-fit.
“Hardik was a very important part of the Indian team,” Chetan said. “But after the injuries, until he is 100% fit, until we get a confirmation he is 100% fit, ready to go and that he is bowling and is match fit, we can’t consider him,” Chetan Sharma told reporters on Saturday.
Chetan was irked when asked why Hardik isn’t playing in the ongoing Ranji Trophy. The Baroda all-rounder opted out of the Ranji Trophy as he continues his rehabilitation for a long-standing back injury.
The chief selector said that they are keeping an eye on the players playing India’s premier domestic red-ball tournament.
“You can ask Hardik why he is not playing Ranji Trophy. We are looking at those who are playing Ranji Trophy and performing there. So we feel happy to watch the competition and see the boys perform,” he added.
Chetan Sharma also asked for support for Hardik. “What Hardik has done for the country, you shouldn’t forget in one minute.”