New Delhi, Mt. Maunganui: India all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been ruled out of the upcoming Test series against New Zealand as he has travelled to London for a review of his back by spinal surgeon James Allibone.
As per the BCCI release, Hardik was accompanied by NCA head physio Ashish Kaushik to UK and the cricketer will undergo rehab at the National Cricket Academy until he regains full match fitness.
Both Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah had earlier hired the services of Delhi Capitals trainer Rajnikanth Sivagnanam to undergo rehab post their injuries. The duo had refused to head to the NCA and while Yogesh Parmar kept an eye on Pandya’s progress post his back surgery, Nitin Patel studied every process that Bumrah followed during his rehab after the stress fracture the pacer had suffered on his back.
Meanwhile in Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand, India will eye a rare 5-0 whitewash against a bruised and battered New Zealand in the final T20 International here on Sunday.
New Zealand have never lost all games in a bilateral T20I series (three or more matches) at home.
Since 2005, they have only once lost all games in a bilateral T20I series at home, going down 2-0 to England back in February 2008.
While this puts India in a unique position going ahead, they will still stay fifth in the ICC T20I rankings behind Pakistan, Australia, England and South Africa.
India will have their mind set elsewhere though, pertinently the experimentation cycle ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia. The fourth T20I was a step in that direction, but it mostly came to nought with the likes of Sanju Samson and Shivam Dube wasting their opportunities.
Samson has been promoted up the order in his limited opportunities against both Sri Lanka and New Zealand, and has been dismissed while attacking the bowling.
The team management would want him to show more patience, while backing him to come good once again. Meanwhile, Dube has lacked footwork against both spinners and pacers.
Elsewhere, with Manish Pandey firming up the number six spot, Shreyas Iyer could be promoted to number three. The bigger question is about the keeper-batsman spot.
Ever since the Australia series at home, KL Rahul has played with an increased workload in that role. Pre-series, skipper Virat Kohli had more or less confirmed that Rahul would continue to keep in the ensuing three-ODI series. While he has been in great form, the team management could afford to rest him and bring in Rishabh Pant.
There is incentive to do so, for this fifth and final game of this series is the last T20I India will play in the current 2019-2020 season. In the shortest format, there is only the Indian Premier League to look forward to in two months’ time, and the next T20I series — against Sri Lanka later in the summer — is quite far away.