Here's why Hardik Pandya may return to Test cricket
Former India captain Sourav Ganguly wants Hardik Pandya to return to Test cricket. He feels the all-rounder can make a significant impact in the longest format of the game. Hardik, who last played a Test in September 2018, has stated that he would return to the Test team only after "earning" his place in the squad. Here's why Hardik should return to Test cricket.
Why does this story matter?
- India have had a dearth of quality pace-bowling all-rounders.
- However, Pandya has changed that narrative for Indian cricket.
- He has been sensational in different dimensions and has only improved his game ever since his international debut in 2016.
- However, Pandya, who has donned Indian colors in all three formats, has struggled with fitness issues.
- The same has kept him away from Test cricket.
Pandya played his last Test in 2018
Pandya experienced back problems in the Test series against England in September 2018. The problem resurfaced at the 2018 Asia Cup. He ultimately went under the knife in 2019. Pandya stayed away from bowling and after the disastrous 2021 ICC T20 World Cup, he took a long break. He announced his comeback when he captained Gujarat Titans to their maiden IPL triumph last year.
Sourav Ganguly's verdict
"There will be specialists in T20s. There's Hardik Pandya although I still feel he is an asset in Test cricket also and he should come back to Test cricket because that's what he will be remembered for," Ganguly said in his interview with The Times of India. "He is a specialist in ODIs and T20Is. But he is a very special cricketer."
Here's a look at Hardik's numbers in Tests
Pandya made his Test debut against Sri Lanka back in 2017. Ever since then, he has only played 11 matches in whites. In these matches, he has mustered 532 at an average of 31.29. He smashed an 86-ball ton which is the fastest Test hundred by an Indian batting at no.8. He also scalped 17 wickets including a fifer against England in Trent Bridge.
An opportunity for India?
India will play the ICC World Test Championship final against Australia at the Oval, starting June 7. Considering the pace-friendly conditions, India could do with an all-rounder like Pandya, who could be their fourth seamer and also a capable batter in the lower order. He also holds prior experience in England, having scalped 10 wickets in four Tests against them.
His numbers since comeback
As mentioned, Hardik has been stellar since his comeback to the national team last year. Since then, he has accumulated 718 runs at 31.21 and 27 wickets at 24.92 in 33 T20Is. The tally includes three fifties and a couple of four-fers. In 11 ODIs, he has claimed 298 at 33.11 and 15 wickets at 23.13. He has tallied two fifties and a four-fer.
Hardik Pandya's overall numbers in white-ball cricket
Pandya has raced to 1,584 runs in 74 ODIs, smashing nine fifties at an average of 33. In 87 T20Is, Pandya has crossed 1,271 runs, striking at 142.17. He has slammed 3 fifties in this format. In bowling, the 29-year-old has scalped 72 wickets in 74 ODIs. Whereas in 87 T20Is, he has snapped 69 dismissals. His best figures of 4/16 came against NZ.
Hardik Pandya's verdict on the WTC final
"I am ethically very strong in my life. I haven't done 10% to reach there. I am not even a part of the 1%. So me coming there and taking someone's place will ethically not go well with me," he stated regarding the WTC final participation. "If I want to play Test cricket, I will go through the grind, I will earn my position."
Do you know?
As per Kausthub Gudipati, Hardik is the first Indian to have registered over 4,000 runs and 100 wickets in T20 cricket. Former Indian all-rounder, Yusuf Pathan, is Hardik's closest rival (4,852 runs and 99 wickets).