India vice-captain KL Rahul has said that Hardik Pandya knows exactly what he needs to do for making a comeback into the team. The all-rounder was not included in the T20I squad for the home series against New Zealand starting November 17 due to his lack of batting form and bowling fitness.
Pandya’s form with the bat has been poor since the first phase of the IPL 2021 back in India. The 28-year-old's poor form continued in Sri Lanka as he couldn’t score cross the 20-run mark in the two ODIs and the first T20I, in which he batted. He wasn’t available for the remaining two T20Is as he was isolated due to Covid19 outbreak in the camp. As far as his bowling is concerned, the Baroda all-rounder has rolled his arms in the limited overs series against England in February-March and against Sri Lanka in July-August this year.
In the two phases of the IPL, he didn’t bowl a single over. Hardik Pandya's return with the bat was horrendous in the tournament as he could only amass 127 runs in 12 games at an average of 14.11 and a strike-rate of 113.39. During the T20 World Cup 2021 in the UAE, Pandya couldn’t create enough impact with the bat and bowled only four overs in the five games in the Super 12.
Subsequently, he was dropped from the T20I squad and KL Rahul said that he is smart cricketer.
"Quite honestly, I mean I do not know if that has happened. He knows exactly what he needs to do and what is expected out of him. He is smart enough to understand that," Rahul said on Monday during a virtual press conference ahead of the T20I series which begins from November 17 in Jaipur.
India and New Zealand will be squaring off in a three-match T20I series, beginning on Wednesday in Jaipur. Rohit Sharma will lead the side with Rahul acting as his deputy.