Indian selectors hesitated to pick Hardik and Natarajan for the Australia tour
According to a close source to BCCI, Indian selectors were reluctant to pick Hardik Pandya and T Natarajan for the Australia tour.
The limited-overs leg between India and Australia came to an end with Australia winning the ODI series and India winning the T20I series, 2-1 each. In the limited-overs leg, Hardik Pandya and T Natarajan were the stars for India. Both of them played key roles in India’s T20I series win.
Hardik Pandya was named as Man of the Series and the left-arm fast bowler picked up six wickets in the three games with an astonishing average of 13.83 and an economy of 6.92. Right after the end of the series, a close source to BCCI revealed that both Hardik Pandya and T Natarajan were selected for the Australian tour with diverse opinions among the selectors.
Hardik Pandya made a comeback to the game in IPL 2020, after surgery on his back. Still, the all-rounder is not fully fit to bowl well and he didn’t bowl a single delivery in IPL 2020. That had been a worry for the selectors. His fierce knocks in IPL led the selectors to come to a conclusion.
“The selectors, at least some, believed he can’t go because he can’t bowl. It was a surprise they didn’t see the kind of batting form he was in. It took some convincing to have Pandya included because if it was left to certain individuals, he was unlikely to go,” the source said.
“These are the kind of decisions that show if one is capable of looking at the bigger picture. Right now, whether he can bowl or not, Hardik is indispensable in the white-ball format. Between now and the T20 World Cup, these kinds of selection decisions will be very crucial.”
On the other hand, T Natarajan was selected as a net bowler for the tour. Later he was named as the replacement for injured Varun Chakravarthy for the T20I series. Consequently, he was named in the ODI side as the cover-up for Navdeep Saini and made his ODI debut in the third ODI of the series.
“It was absolutely clear he would play the T20s after what they saw in the nets. The wicket of Mitchell Starc in the first game (T20) cleared whatever little doubt there was,” the source added.