Cricketer-turned-commentator Aakash Chopra has said he is unsure if a prominent show in the limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka will help Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya regain their places in the Indian Test squad.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya were left out of the Indian squad for the World Test Championship final and the five-match series against England. However, the duo will be seen in action in the upcoming white-ball series against Sri Lanka.
Aakash Chopra: Hardik Pandya’s Name Won’t Come In Test Reckoning Unless He Bowls In Tests
In a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra was asked by a fan if Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya can be again seen in the Indian Test team if they perform well in Sri Lanka. Former cricketer responded that he was not entirely convinced it would happen so. Aakash Chopra explained why Hardik Pandya might not get an immediate callback in the Indian Test team.
“I don’t know, yaar. Hardik Pandya has made it very clear that he is not going to bowl in Test cricket at this point in time. Hardik’s name will not come in Tests unless he bowls, that thing is almost written in stone although he has a Test century as well. But then if he is not bowling, you won’t play him, you will play a proper batsman, maybe a Hanuma Vihari or someone else.”
Hardik Pandya has decent returns in Tests – he has scored 532 runs in 11 Tests (18 innings) at an average of 31.29 at a strike rate of 73.88 with one hundred and four fifties and also picked 17 wickets at a bowling average of 31.05.
But soon after the England tour in 2018, Hardik Pandya suffered a series of lower back injuries which forced him to miss a number of series including the tour of the West Indies in 2019. This was a huge setback for Hardik Pandya the bowler and he was in no position to bowl long spells (or at all) with the red ball for India. Consequently, he has not played another Test for India since Southampton, 2018.
“You did not leave Bhuvneshwar Kumar out because there was an issue with his fitness. There were reports that he doesn’t want to play Tests but he denied that and said that he wants to play.”
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been prone to injuries of late. The Indian selectors and team management might not have been convinced about his ability to bowl expanded spells at this moment.
Aakash Chopra Will Definitely Have Bhuvneshwar Kumar In His Thoughts For Next Test Series In And Against South Africa
Aakash Chopra added he would want Team India to keep Bhuvneshwar Kumar in their scheme of things for their Test trip to South Africa.
“If we talk about Bhuvneshwar and see where the next tours are, I will once again have him in my thoughts for South Africa. Before that, the matches that are there in India, you won’t play him in those. You could have probably taken him to England but you didn’t take him there.”
The 43-year-old signed off by stating that the decision to include Bhuvneshwar Kumar would not be based on his performances in Sri Lanka.
“Next is South Africa, I will definitely have him in my thoughts, whether he does well here or not. He will do well, but just in case he doesn’t, Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s caliber, pedigree and talent are not dependent on a few games. If you have to get him, it is a strategical and tactical decision, which you can definitely make.”
Bhuvneshwar Kumar picked up ten wickets in the couple of Tests he played in India’s last visit to South Africa. However, his selection for the important tour might be subjected to him proving his fitness in first-class cricket.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has played the last Test against South Africa in 2018. He hasn’t played Test cricket since 2018 and was recently overlooked from the 20-men squad for the upcoming Test summer in England.