New Delhi: All-rounder Hardik Pandya may be added to the Indian squad for the last two Tests in Australia. A call is expected to be taken at the end of Baroda’s Ranji trophy game against Mumbai later today. In his first competitive match since picking up a back injury during the Asia Cup in September, Pandya bowled 18.5 overs in the first innings to claim 5/81 and then batted patiently for 137 balls in scoring 73. In the second innings too, Pandya had bowled 10 overs to claim 2/21 by lunch on the fourth and final day.
Pandya opted to play the Ranji Trophy over the one-day games on the India ‘A’ in New Zealand or the Emerging Trophy in Sri Lanka to prove his fitness in the longer format.

“Hardik has requested the selectors to observe his fitness in the Ranji Trophy,” a reliable source informed CricketNext. “He has been interacting with the national selector every day after play in Mumbai, giving updates of his fitness.

“The selectors will speak to the team management after the end of the Ranji Trophy match on Monday. The management have asked for him to be added to the squad if the selectors are convinced of his fitness.”

In Pandya’s absence, India have chosen to play both Tests with four specialist bowlers so far in Australia and former India all-rounder Manoj Prabhakar believes that if fit, Pandya is critical to the balance of the side.

“It doesn’t make any sense for me to go into a match in Australia without a spinner in the playing XI,” he told CricketNext. “Look at Shane Warne’s record in matches down under and now Nathan Lyon as well. If Pandya was fit enough to play for India, he should be immediately be drafted into the team. With Pandya coming in, India could drop one medium pacer and opt for Kuldeep Yadav or Ravindra Jadeja if (Ravichandran) Ashwin is not fit. Also with Indian lower order being so vulnerable, Pandya’s batting will come in handy.”

First Published: December 17, 2018, 12:48 PM IST