Shivani Shukla ∙ Updated: Jun 8 2023, 12:19 PM | 3 Min Read

Nasser Hussain, Ponting Reveal Hardik Pandya Was Contacted For WTC Final: 'Just A One-Off Test For Balance Of Side...?'

image-limnh6blHardik Pandya has not feature in India's Test for quite some time now | Source: Twitter 

The selection of India's playing XI for the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia on June 7 at The Oval has put their management in the center of criticism due to their 'bold move' of excluding their top-ranked bowler, Ravichandran Ashwin. 

The Asian Giants went with four seamers, namely Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, and Umesh Yadav while relying on Ravindra Jadeja as the sole spinner. This decision was influenced by the pitch conditions, which displayed a green surface at the time of the toss. 

A potential gamble for India could have been replacing Umesh Yadav or Shardul Thakur with Ashwin. However, apart from that, one area where they really struggled was the absence of a genuine seam-bowling all-rounder capable of bowling and generating movement even when there is limited help from the surface.

Although Shardul Thakur is in the mix, he may not fulfill the criteria of being a genuine seam-bowling all-rounder. Highlighting this issue, the former England captain Nasser Hussain has raised questions regarding the absence of Hardik Pandya from the Test side. 

Here’s what Hussain said in the commentary:

"At the toss this morning, it was so apparent that India were not sure about their side and Australia were crystal clear and Cameron Green has a lot to do with that. He (Hardik Pandya) just balances the side away from home in England."

"He is the sort of cricketer that India would have loved to have. Of course, Shardul Thakur is a seam-bowling all-rounder of all kinds. In India, you've got Jadeja, Ashwin and Axar Patel. They are complete all-rounders in Indian conditions but what about a seam-bowling all-rounder when you go overseas? Where is Hardik Pandya?" 

Reacting to this, former Australia captain Ricky Ponting revealed that Hardik Pandya was asked about his availability for the one-off WTC final. However, Pandya declined the offer, stating it would be unfair to the other Indian players who had contributed throughout the WTC cycle to secure a spot in the finals. 

Here’s what Ponting said:

"That's the one line that was mentioned in commentary earlier today. He made it clear that he feels his body won't get through the rigours of Test cricket. He was thrown up in a game like this. What do you think about playing in a game like this, just a one-off Test just to help the balance of the side? And his reply apparently was that he didn't feel it was fair on everyone else who have been through this journey in the last couple of years leading into this game."

Ahead of the home ODI series against Australia earlier in March, Hardik Pandya was asked about his potential participation in the WTC final. However, the Baroda player stated that he hadn't made a significant contribution, not even "10%," towards the team's journey to the WTC final and believed it would be unfair to the other players involved. 

Here’s what Pandya had said earlier: 

"No. I am an ethically very strong person. I haven’t done 10 per cent to reach there. I am not even a part of 1 per cent. So me coming there and taking someone’s place will ethically not go well."

"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."