Batting legend Ricky Ponting feels that India should have picked Hardik Pandya in their squad for the World Test Championships final against Australia in London, saying his all-round abilities could have turned out to be the deciding factor in the one-off game.
Pandya has not played a Test since 2018 and he has opted to sit out of the five-day format due to ongoing fitness concerns.
But Ponting felt Pandya could have played in the winner-takes all clash at The Oval from June 7-11, primarily because he has bowled often in the just-concluded IPL for Gujarat Titans which he captains.
“...I thought about that the other day, for India in this game... how valuable someone like Hardik Pandya could be in a one-off Test match,” Ponting wrote for the ICC Review.
“I know he is on record saying that the Test match game is probably a little bit hard on his body. But for a one-off game... he’s been bowling every game through this IPL and he’s bowling quick.”
Pandya bowled a total of 25 overs for Gujarat Titans in IPL 2023 and claimed three wickets. With the bat, he scored 346 runs at an average of 31.45.
The former Australia captain, also the head coach of Delhi Capitals in the IPL, said Pandya could have been the X-factor for the Indian team in the WTC final beginning on June 7.
“He (Pandya) could be that X-factor there just to pick in a one-off game, come in and see what he can do with bat and ball. He could be the difference between the two teams.”
The 29-year-old Pandya has played in 11 Tests since making his debut in 2017, scoring 532 runs with one hundred and four fifties. He has taken 17 wickets at an average of 31.05. In the 74 ODIs he has played so far, Pandya has scored 1584 runs and taken 72 wickets. In the T20Is, he has scored 1271 runs from 87 matches and scalped 69 wickets.
Pandya led Gujarat Titans to their maiden IPL triumph in 2022 but lost to Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings in this season’s final on Monday.
Written with inputs from PTI