Why Hardik Pandya was not named in India T20I squad

All-rounder recovering after surgery

India's Hardik Pandya batting against England

All-rounder Hardik Pandya has not been included in India's squad for the upcoming T20I series against New Zealand.

Pandya recently underwent back surgery and is “100 percent fit”, according to personal trainer Sivagnanam Rajnikanth.

“There is no doubt about that. But I don't want him to take the workload of back-to-back international matches. No fitness test has been conducted for Pandya yet, so there's no question of him failing any test.” Rajnikanth told the Times of India.

Pandya was originally named in the India A squad for this month's series in New Zealand, but did not board the flight. Fellow all-rounder Vijay Shankar, who is also in the T20I squad, travelled with the India A squad instead.

“Shankar has been included in the India A squad for New Zealand since Pandya's rehabilitation process is taking longer than expected,” read a statement from the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

The 26-year-old Pandya has not played international cricket since September 2019 – and is effectively in a fitness race to be named in India's squad for the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.

Prior to the back surgery, he had collected 11 Tests, 54 ODIs and 40 T20I appearances since debuting in 2016. The hard-hitting right-hander was particularly impressive with the bat during August 2017's third Test against Sri Lanka in Pallekele, striking 108 off just 96 balls.

What Pandya said

“People have scared me and how, saying that back surgery is this serious, back surgery will finish this, it is very difficult and all. Then I now felt this is a little scary. But then I was like I can't go because someone else had a problem after surgery,” he told India Today earlier this year.

“I am a different individual, I have a different body type, I have a different work ethic. I know I am going to make a strong comeback and I am going to do the exact right thing which I am supposed to do to make sure my back does not get more hampered.”

India have been pooled with England, South Africa, Afghanistan and two qualifying teams for the 2020 T20 World Cup. They won the 2007 T20 World Cup (previously named the World Twenty20) in South Africa.

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