Hardik Pandya’s love-affair with Wankhede Stadium — the venue where he first came to the fore in a Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy game before it became his alma mater in the IPL — will continue on Friday, with the ace all-rounder set to lead India in an ODI for the first time.
But Hardik has ruled out the slightest of possibility of donning India’s whites in the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia in June.
“I am ethically a very strong person. I haven’t done 10% to reach there. I am not even a part of 1%, so me coming there and taking someone’s place will ethically not go well,” said Hardik, who last played a Test in August 2018.
“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 don’t feel that I have earned my spot.”
The three-ODI series will be the first of the two major litmus tests for India in its quest to regain the World Cup title at home.
Sandwiched between the Asia Cup in September and the World Cup in October will be India’s repeat three-match series against Australia at home.
While that series will be the dress rehearsal, the start of the World Cup preparation has been marred by injuries — Shreyas Iyer, Jasprit Bumrah’s back issues along with Rishabh Pant’s accident.
“No timeline, we have to hope for the best to wish him speedy recovery. I have been in that situation where back could be a problem… we will miss him but we have to find solutions if he isn’t around. There is a lot of time to think about how we can go forward,” Hardik said about Shreyas’ fitness.
Hardik also stressed that India has learnt to cope with Bumrah’s absence during the last six months. Having Jassi makes a massive difference, but to be very honest, we aren’t much bothered because the guys who have taken his role, I am quite confident they’ll be doing very well.”