Injury to the star player has given a major headache for Team India ahead of the World Cup
The upcoming T20I and ODI series against Australia at home are the only international assignments for Team India before the ICC Cricket World Cup, scheduled to be played in June. The Indian selectors have already finalized on the core team to take part in the multi-team tournament. Almost every spot in the team has been filled barring one or two. In these circumstances, the Indian team management would like the players to stay fit and injury free.
But in a big blow to team India, star all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been ruled out of the complete Australia series due to a lower back stiffness. Pandya was earlier “stretchered out” of the stadium in an Asia Cup fixture last year and made his come back in the Ranji Trophy with a five wicket haul. After missing the T20I series in Australia, Pandya was recalled in the Test squad after the second Test was completed but wasn’t part of the playing XI.
Pandya, along with opening batsman KL Rahul were suspended by the BCCI prior to the one-day international series in Australia due to some inappropriate comments made by the duo in a television talk show. Pandya was recalled to the ODI squad and picked up four wickets and scored 61 runs against New Zealand in the three games. His absence from the team led the management to go for Vijay Shankar as the like-for-like replacement to Pandya. Shankar also impressed the selectors with his batting form in New Zealand.
As the T20I leg of the tour is scheduled to begin on February 24, the selectors have not named any replacement for Pandya in the T20I squad whereas left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja has been called to the ODI squad for five-match series. Jadeja was part of the ODI squad in New Zealand but spent his time on the bench. Jadeja played in three ODIs against Australia earlier this year but failed to make an impact as he only managed to pick two wickets in three games at an average of 75. The selectors have given him a final chance to prove his worth for the World Cup.
UPDATED INDIA ODI SQUAD: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Kuldeep Yadav, Siddarth Kaul (first 2 ODIs), Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (final 3 ODIs)