India ‘A’ warm-ups to be Hardik Pandya’s fitness test before T20s in New Zealand | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: Hardik Pandya is slated to make his international comeback in New Zealand after recovering from a chronic injury in his lower back. However, his fitness will be gauged in the two warm-up One-dayers between India ‘A’ and New Zealand ‘A’ in the third week of January before the senior team lands in New Zealand later this month.

Pandya, like Jasprit Bumrah, had opted to stay away from the controversy-ridden National Cricket Academy (NCA) during his rehab after his surgery in early October.

The India ‘A’ support staff will assess his fitness when the team leaves for New Zealand on Saturday morning from New Delhi. On Dec 23, chief selector MSK Prasad had said that a clear picture on Pandya’s fitness would be available by the third week of January. He was subsequently named in India ‘A’ team for three One-dayers.

“The selectors were informed by BCCI that he is doing well. The plan is to check his fitness in the two warm-up games that India ‘A’ play and then he joins the Indian team for the five-match T20I series,” a top BCCI official told TOI. However, it will be interesting to see if he is brought back for the two Test matches in New Zealand in late February.

While the NCA found itself mired in controversy for not conducting fitness tests on Bumrah, TOI understands that Pandya had asked for special permission to stay home and undergo his rehab.

“Right after his surgery, he had communicated to BCCI that he would prefer to be home during his rehab as he would be in a happier place mentally and that would help him recover faster. “He, however, kept BCCI in the loop about his progress and NCA physio Yogesh Parmar had overseen his treatment,” the official said.

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