Reports: Focusing on overall fitness, Hardik Pandya asks selectors to not consider him for a while

Reports: Focusing on overall fitness, Hardik Pandya asks selectors to not consider him for a while

Pandya was not a part of the home T20I series against New Zealand, and is understood to not be in contention for the upcoming South Africa tour.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 11: Hardik Pandya walks to the nets during the India ODI Series Training Session at SCG on January 11, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya, it is learnt, has asked the national selectors to not consider him for a while as he continues to focus on regaining full fitness. Pandya has not been able to contribute with the ball to both India and his IPL team Mumbai Indians after his persistent back issues since he underwent surgery in 2019.

An ESPNcricinfo report, meanwhile, states Pandya is eyeing a return to full-time bowling and has asked the selectors to give him time for the same. The 28-year-old was a part of India’s T20 World Cup squad, but bowled only twice in five games (without picking any wicket), even as chief selector Chetan Sharma while naming the Indian squad for the tournament, was confident about him bowling the full quota of his overs.

Before the T20 World Cup in the UAE, Pandya’s bowling fitness was continuously monitored during the IPL, but he did not bowl in any of the 12 games he was a part of across both legs of the tournament. In fact, the last Pandya bowled in the IPL was during 2019, as he played the 2020 edition only as a pure batter.

Pandya was not selected for the recent home T20Is against New Zealand, which India won 3-0, and it is understood he would not be in contention for the upcoming tour of South Africa, which is uncertain to go ahead after the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant in the African nations.

Meanwhile, despite the concerns over how Pandya’s inclusion as a pure batter dents India’s balance, Virat Kohli has been in favour of including him as a specialist batter. “What he brings at that No.6 spot is something you cannot create overnight,” Kohli had said in a virtual interaction before India started their T20 World Cup campaign in October.

“We understand the value he brings to the team as a No.6 batter, and in world cricket, if you look around, there are specialists who do that job. It’s very important to have that guy, especially in T20 cricket, who can play an impact innings at that stage. Even when the chips are down, he’s someone who can play a long innings in that way. So, for us, that is way more valuable than forcing him to do something he’s not ready for at the moment.”