Bengaluru: KL Rahul’s stupendous white ball form makes him a firm favourite to get his place back in the red ball team even as selectors fret on all-rounder Hardik Pandya’s fitness before picking ODI and Test squads for the New Zealand tour here Sunday.
Rahul has been India’s most consistent player in T20 and ODIs but he lost his place in the Test squad after tour of Australia.
But as skipper Virat Kohli said that it’s difficult to leave a player like Rahul from any squad, he has better chance than fit-again Prithvi Shaw or Subman Gill who was reserve Test opener during home series last season.
The other change in Test squad could be fast-rising Navdeep Saini going as an extra pacer rather than Kuldeep Yadav as the third spinner since only one among Ravichandran Ashwin or Ravindra Jadeja will make the playing XI.
Similarly, Indian team management is eagerly waiting for Hardik to become “bowling fit” for white ball matches post back surgery and will be automatic choice for ODIs if fit.
He had failed the mandatory ‘bowling workload test’ after which his personal trainer S Rajnikanth advised him to pull out of India A’s shadow tour.
In case, Hardik can’t make it, selectors might either look at hitting prowess of Suryakumar Yadav since the ODIs in the Kiwiland will be an extension of T20s in World Cup year.
There is also a possibility that Ajinkya Rahane will be considered due to his better technique compared to Kedar Jadhav who is slowly falling off in pecking order.
“Kedar is certainly not going to play 2023 World Cup and doesn’t even bowl now. Since he is not in T20, no point in carrying him to New Zealand. Possibly Surya or Rahane should be tried,” a BCCI source privy to selection matters said.