New Delhi: Out of favour India all-rounder Hardik Pandya has decided to skip Vijay Hazare Trophy (National ODIs). This is because Hardik Pandya is undergoing an extensive rehabilitation programme in order to regain his bowling fitness. The Vijay Hazare Trophy starts Wednesday.
“The Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) had sent an e-mail to Hardik enquiring about his availability for the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He has rarely played for Baroda in last three years. However he gave a one-line reply that he is currently doing rehab in Mumbai. So he is unavailable,” a senior official privy to developments in BCA said Tuesday on conditions of anonymity.
The BCA official was asked about the injury Hardik has at present. “Even the BCA doesn’t know the status of his injury. It is understood that he is trying to do some strength and conditioning module for his back. His back is no longer in the best of shape post surgery in 2019,” the source revealed.
The official informed that Hardik’s elder brother Krunal had joined Baroda’s pre-Hazare camp for a week. It happened after Krunal was instructed by the BCA that attending the camp is mandatory for being part of the final squad.
“BCA told Krunal that he can’t just land up during tournaments and he has to be a part of the camp. After that he came and trained with the team for a week,” the source informed.
It should be stated here that the BCCI has said if Hardik doesn’t play domestic tournaments, he will not be considered for a comeback in the Indian side for white ball tournaments.
“The current national selection committee has told all the players that all those who are not in the India squad should go back and play domestic cricket – Hazare and Ranji Trophy,” the source added.
The junior Pandya is understandably not keen on playing Test cricket anymore. This is as he wants to prolong his career. He will concentrate primarily on T20s and ODIs and for that he needs to start bowling regularly.
He is doing his rehab in Mumbai. However, he would ultimately need to go to the NCA and prove his fitness in-front of the coaches over there. After that he will be considered for national selection.
There was a time when Indian players used to procure fitness certificate from NCA. However, that culture was changed after erstwhile Director of Cricket Rahul Dravid took charge.
Dravid made it mandatory for every player to come to NCA, appear for all the necessary fitness tests in-front of the coaches, trainers and physios and then only are given the go-ahead to play matches.
A case in point was Shreyas Iyer, who had to be in NCA for a week to get the green light to play in the IPL.
India will be playing three ODIs in South Africa from January 19. Even if the team is selected at a later date (allowing the white ball specialists to enter the bubble later), Hardik will not be picked if he doesn’t bowl.
It is understood that BCCI usually for overseas tours procures visa for more than 35 to 40 players for the sake of convenience. Venkatesh Iyer, who is being seen as Hardik’s potential future replacement, could be picked for the ODIs in order to add variety and also have that sixth bowler option.