Hardik Pandya will play the Ranji Trophy game against Mumbai as he aims to come back to the Indian side for the Tests against Australia. (Image credit: Twitter)
Ian Chappell, former Australia cricket team skipper, has said Hardik Pandya’s absence for the Test series against Australia starting on December 6 will be a major blow for Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team. Chappell reckons that Pandya gave the balance to the Indian side and provided a lot more options to Kohli as India search for their first-ever Test series win in Australia. The all-rounder sustained a back injury during the Asia Cup in September and had to be stretchered off the field. The injury forced him to miss the Twenty20 Internationals and the Test series against Australia and there is hope that he could be fit for the ODI series starting in January 2019.
“He was the balance to the team. If you had Pandya there under Australian conditions, he could perform as your third seamer and you could play two spinners in places like Adelaide and Sydney, where I think it is very handy to have five bowlers,” Chappell told ESPNCricinfo.
However, according to a report in ESPNCricinfo, Pandya is undergoing rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) and selectors have told him to prove his fitness in the Ranji Trophy game where Baroda will take on Mumbai on December 14. The reports suggest that if Pandya performs well in the Mumbai clash, he could be included for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. With Pandya turning up for Baroda, he will not be part of the three one-dayers for India A against New Zealand A.
Surprising if Australia reach 350-400 consistently
With Australia missing the services of Steve Smith and David Warner, the Australian batting line-up is fragile. The duo has been banned for one year due to the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town and Chappell believes the hosts do not have the firepower to build big totals.
“I think you have to be a supreme optimist to think about Australia getting 350-400 runs regularly in the Test series. If they can get 350 occasionally, it will surprise a lot of people, me being one of them,” Chappell said.
Chappell also said this was the best Indian side to come Down Under and they have a good chance of winning the series. “I think it is one of the better teams to come from India, and certainly, as far as the fast bowlers are concerned, they are better suited to Australian conditions than any other pace-bowling attack I have seen come from India. But while things look good on paper for India, that has got to be translated into form on the field,” the Australian cricket veteran said.