Pandya fails fitness tests, Shankar replaces him in India A squad

Hardik Pandya, India A squad, India tour of New Zealand, fitness tests, Yo-Yo tests,
The selectors had picked Pandya in the squad without testing him in the Ranji games and were planning to draft him on SOS basis in the senior team. File Photo: PTI

Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya on Saturday (January 11) failed to clear mandatory fitness tests and pulled out of India A squad’s tour of New Zealand in Mumbai.

While the selectors were expecting to pick Pandya in the limited-overs team, this nullifies the idea of him making a comeback in the international cricket any time soon.

As for his replacement, Tamil Nadu captain Vijay Shankar has been drafted into the India A team and has already boarded the flight to New Zealand where they will play two 50-over warm-up games, three List A games and two four-day ‘Tests’ against the home A team.

Meanwhile, former India batting coach Sanjay Bangar feels a seam-bowling all-rounder will be ideal for the Indian Test team in New Zealand considering the favourable conditions there for those who can move the ball.

While he largely retained the squad that played against Bangladesh at home in November, Bangar backed all-rounder Vijay Shankar to be part of the squad for the two Tests.

“If they go in with 17 players, then there is place for a reserve batsman and all-rounder. Now New Zealand conditions are ideal for seam-bowling all-rounders,” Bangar said on ‘ESPNcricinfo’.

Also read: Pandya likely to be back in limited-overs squad for New Zealand tour

The selectors had picked Pandya in the squad without testing him in the Ranji games and were planning to draft him on SOS basis in the senior team if the need arises since India A’s tour coincides with the seniors’ visit.

It has been learned that Pandya failed a couple of mandatory fitness tests and his scores were well below the permissible range suggesting that he is far from being fit for international cricket. In this situation, pulling him out of India A squad was expected.

“About Hardik, it’s only about checking out if he is fully fit for international cricket or not. He is very integral to India’s World T20 plans,” a senior BCCI official, privy to selection matters, told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

India A team’s fitness regimen doesn’t have any Yo-Yo tests.

Bangar further said, “You see what an impact Colin de Grandhomme has had on the New Zealand team. So someone like Vijay Shankar can be an ideal candidate for that slot, given he is fit wherein it gives the right balance to the squad if he bats at No.6. It will also give India a batting depth and a fifth bowling option.”

The series is part of the World Test Championship and a series win will definitely brighten India’s prospects of reaching 2021 final.

For the reserve batsman, Bangar mentioned Prithvi Shaw’s name, though the Mumbai player was pulled out of India ‘A’ shadow tour owing to an injury he suffered during a Ranji Trophy game.

(With inputs from agencies)