India all-rounder Hardik Pandya out of Australia home series as back trouble returns

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Hardik Pandya.

India all-rounder Hardik Pandya was ruled out of the limited-overs home series against Australia due to lower back stiffness, raising questions about the injury management of the team.

Left-arm spinning all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has been named as his replacement for the five-match ODI series which starts next month while the Indians will go in with a 14-member squad for two Twenty20 matches which begin in Visakhapatnam on Sunday.

“The BCCI medical team decided to rest Mr. Pandya and let him undergo strength and conditioning work for his lower back at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru,” it said. “Mr. Pandya will begin his strength work from next week.”

Pandya had returned from a serious back injury sustained during the Asia Cup in UAE in September after playing just one domestic first-class match in December.

Around the same time, he found himself in the eye of the storm following a controversial appearance on a TV show where he bragged about his encounters with women.

Pandya, along with KL Rahul who appeared on that show, were asked to leave the Australia tour that they were part of. But the Indian team management decided to call Pandya back into the squad for the limited overs tour of New Zealand the moment he played his first first-class match.

Pandya is crucial for India’s chances at the 2019 World Cup but the haste shown in his return might end up costing India. Last year, poor injury management saw India lose the services of their most potent weapon – Bhuvneshwar Kumar – for the England Test series after the seamer picked up a serious back injury during the IPL.

According to the Hindustan Times, Pandya has been asked to strengthen his core to manage his workload.

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Uncertainty within BCCI over letter to ask for Pakistan's removal from 2019 World Cup

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India and Pakistan are set to play in Manchester at the World Cup.

Conflicting reports from India have emerged regarding a proposed plan to ask the ICC to bar Pakistan from participating in the 2019 World Cup.

A deadly suicide bomb attack in the state of Jammu & Kashmir has escalated political tensions between the countries. Bilateral relations between the countries have screeched to a halt and there are demands from certain sections within India to end all sporting ties as well.

India and Pakistan are to face each other on June 16 in Manchester in what is expected to be the biggest match in the World Cup in terms of viewership and sponsorship. But now there is a question mark next to that game with some reports suggesting the Indian cricket board might end up asking the world body to bar Pakistan from the showpiece event.

The Times of India reported that the Committee of Administrators running the Indian board has asked BCCI CEO Rahul Johri to draft letter addressed to ICC chairman Shashank Manohar demanding Pakistan’s removal.

However, the Press Trust of India reported that not only will such a move fail, it can also jeopardise India’s hosting rights for future ICC events.

“There is absolutely no way this could happen. The ICC constitution allows members the right to participate in ICC events as long as they’ve qualified,” a BCCI official was quoted as saying by the agency.

“In case India writes to ICC for Pakistan’s removal, then the BCCI have to build a consensus first to move a resolution at its Annual Board Meeting in April. India no longer enjoys a majority in the ICC right now. If this goes for a floor test, we are certain to lose,” the official said. “Not only that, serious doubts will emerge on our chances to host 2021 Champions Trophy and 2023 World Cup.”

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Pant and Rahul selected for India ODIs against Australia, Karthik dropped

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Rishabh Pant.

Indian selectors recalled opener KL Rahul while bringing in hard-hitting wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant for the five-match ODI series against Australia at home.

The squad for the five-match series is more or less the one the Indians will be going in with at the 2019 World Cup. Which means it is almost certain that Dinesh Karthik will not be a part of India’s World Cup side after failing to make the cut in the ODI squads for either the first two or last three matches.

The decision to drop Karthik is an interesting one as it comes after he was criticised for not taking a single in the final over chase against New Zealand in the third T20. In Hamilton, with 14 needed from four balls and an in-form Krunal Pandya at the other end,  Karthik refused a single and then failed to secure victory himself.

India play two T20s against Australia – starting on February 24 – before hosting them for five ODI early next month.

The decision to select Pant was long overdue with the absence of an in-form, hard-hitting lower order batsman felt over the past season.

Rahul is back in the team as a back-up opener after scoring a couple of 80s against the England Lions in first-class cricket.

Virat Kohli will lead India in all the games, with fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah also selected for all matches after being given a rest for limited overs clashes in Australia and New Zealand.

All-rounder Vijay Shankar seems to have done enough to gain the trust of the team management to be the second all-rounder behind Hardik Pandya.

MS Dhoni remains the main wicketkeeper with Mohammed Shami selected for all five ODIs, ahead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar who has been picked for the last three. It means Shami has overtaken Bhuvi to become the No2 ODI bowler for India.

India squad for 1st and 2nd ODIs: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Vijay Shankar, Rishabh Pant, Siddharth Kaul, KL Rahul

India’s squad for last three ODIs: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Vijay Shankar, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant

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