Hardik Pandya is all set to make a comeback to competitive cricket for the first time in three months with an eye on the ongoing Test series between India and Australia Down Under.
Pandya, who has been on the sidelines since sustaining a back injury during the Asia Cup 2018 in September will turn out for Baroda during their Ranji Trophy 2018-19 fixture against Mumbai starting Friday (December 14).
“Before I go for any major series, I wanted to see where exactly I stand,” Pandya said in an interview with Times Now. “Ranji Trophy is the best domestic tournament. I wanted to check my fitness levels there, and then take a call about how I am feeling and what should be the next step.
"Right now, I am only focusing on the Ranji Trophy and then obviously, I want to get back to the team as soon as possible, because it’s difficult to stay away for so long.”
The 25-year-old was originally slated to travel with the India A side for three one-dayers against New Zealand A but instead stayed back in order to prove his fitness in India’s domestic premier tournament.
The all-rounder has a chance of making it to the squad for the final two Tests in Australia, which will be held in Melbourne and Sydney, and said that was a major reason why he chose to stay back in India and prove his worth in Ranji Trophy rather than travelling to New Zealand for the 50-over games.
“If I am playing a Test match, I should play a four-day game (rather) than one-day, because one-day is later on,” Pandya said. “I am focusing right now that if I can make it to the team, because there is scope of me making a comeback into the Test team, if I am fit to play a Test match. That’s why I wanted to take my time and see where exactly I stand in Ranji Trophy.
"Playing a Test match is a different league. The workload goes very high, so I wanted to see if I can manage the workload. I knew I would get enough match preparation before the Australia ODIs. Therefore I focused on playing Ranji Trophy.”
Pandya’s inclusion will further boost Baroda’s chances, who are currently placed fifth on the combined Groups A and B points table with 13 points.