Moments after India qualified for the World Test Championship final for the second time in a row, there have been discussions regarding the Test comeback of Hardik Pandya for the summit clash against Australia at The Oval. Hardik however shut all the talk around it with a genuine comment, but it has received an unexpected reaction from the veteran spinner, R Ashwin. Pandya hasn’t played Test cricket since 2018 owing to his recurring back injury.
However, following his impressive run as an all-rounder in white-ball cricket since his injury return in June 2022, and with India requiring a balance in the side with a fast-bowling all-rounder in English conditions, the discussion on Hardik’s return to Test cricket. The India star however believes that it will be unethical for him to return to the side for the final and take someone else’s spot when he hasn’t contributed anything towards the team’s run to the big match.
Hardik Pandya explained, “No. I am an ethically very strong person. I haven’t done 1% to reach there. So, me coming there and taking someone’s place will ethically not go well. If I want to play Test cricket, I’ll go through the grind and earn my spot. Hence, for that reason I will not be available for the WTC final or future test series until I feel that I have earned my spot.”
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Speaking on Hardik’s comments on his YouTube channel, R Ashwin said hailed the all-rounder and doffed his hat off for the “proper statement”.
R Ashwin asserted, “We have reached the WTC final and many felt that Hardik Pandya must return to the Test side. Of course, those opinions were great since Hardik has done well in England with the limited Tests he has played there. But Hardik has said that it won’t do justice and, ‘I will come back when I feel it’s the right time to play Test cricket and I haven’t even played one percent role in qualifying for the finals’.”
He further added, “This is a proper statement to the cricket fraternity and to the entire world by Hardik Pandya. We often tend to blame others for our failures. We believe in superstitions or find other reasons because at the end of the day we are disappointed. But Hardik has accepted that he isn’t eligible to play Test at the moment. That is a big statement coming from a player- like him. Hats off to Hardik Pandya.”
Ashwin was also full of praise for Hardik’s captaincy in the first ODI match against Australia and how he made good use of Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami to script Australia’s collapse from 155 for three to 188.
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R Ashwin said, “Why am I hyping this so much about Hardik? Well, because he led us in Rohit Sharma’s absence in the first ODI against Australia. Many has praised saying that he doesn’t back down from a challenge. Australia were on course for a huge total. But Hardik played a role in bringing back Siraj and Shami even after the spinners took two wickets because he felt there was something in the wicket for the pacers. To get a team all out for 188 from 155 for three is phenomenal achievement by India.”