NewsRuturaj Gaikwad is also unavailable with a finger injury
Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya are expected to be back in action from the IPL • AFP/Getty Images
Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya will not be part of the Indian squad for the three-match T20I series at home against Afghanistan that starts on January 11. Ruturaj Gaikwad is also unavailable with a finger injury, and is likely to miss the first part of the England Test series as well.
ESPNcricinfo has learned that both Suryakumar and Hardik are expected to be back in action from the IPL. Suryakumar, who led India in the T20Is in South Africa in December, hurt his ankle while fielding in the third and final match in Johannesburg. He recently underwent ankle surgery and is expected to return to training in a couple of months.
The Afghanistan series is India’s last bilateral T20I assignment before the T20 World Cup, which begins on June 1, immediately after the IPL. Ideally, the selectors would have wanted all their first-choice 15 to be available for selection, including Hardik, who limped out of the ODI World Cup with a ligament tear during the league match against Bangladesh in Pune in November.
While the BCCI medical staff at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) had predicted a quick recovery, Hardik continues to be carrying on his rehab. It is learned that while the India allrounder continues to work on his strength and conditioning, he has not reached optimal fitness. As a precautionary measure, the medical team has advised Hardik should continue to monitor his workload.
If he was fit for the Afghanistan series, one significant question for the selectors would have been if to consider him as captain. After the 2022 T20 World Cup, Hardik was projected to replace Rohit as the captain in the shortest format.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo