Hardik, Bhuvneshwar return for South Africa ODIs

By Staff Reporter - March 12, 2020

All-rounder Hardik Pandya has made his much awaited return to the Indian squad as the selectors included him for the three-match ODI series against South Africa. The 15-man squad also sees seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar making a comeback to national colours. Opener Shikhar Dhawan, who missed the New Zealand series with a shoulder injury, has recovered to regain his spot but his regular opening partner Rohit Sharma remains on the sidelines recovering from a calf injury.

Squad: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Virat Kohli (C), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill.

Hardik last played for India in September last year in a T20I against South Africa, soon after which he underwent a back surgery. He was expected to feature in at least one format in New Zealand but his comeback was delayed as the BCCI wanted the player to spend more time in his rehab. He has had excellent outings with both bat and ball now in a T20 tournament in Mumbai to prove his match fitness and eventually earn his spot back. Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar, who were nursing injuries, had also participated in the tournament.

Shardul Thakur has been left out following Bhuvneshwar’s return, while Navdeep Saini holds on to his spot in the absence of Mohammed Shami, which could be due to the shoulder blow he took in the second Test against New Zealand.

These three ODIs are of significant importance for Bhuvneshwar who has had to contend with a lot of injury setbacks of late. His most recent appearance for India came in the T20Is against West Indies late last year following which he suffered a groin injury. Prior to that, he suffered a hamstring strain during the World Cup and a niggle ahead of the home series against South Africa and Bangladesh.

The selectors have dropped Mayank Agarwal following his poor returns in New Zealand but Prithvi Shaw has managed to retain his spot and looks likely to partner Dhawan at the top of the order in Rohit’s absence. Shubman Gill, who didn’t get a game in the Test series in New Zealand, has been included likely as the backup for the top order.

The selectors have also shown the exit door to Shivam Dube following Hardik’s return. With Kedar Jadhav also getting the axe, India have paved a way to include both Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik in the XI at the same time if necessary. Rishabh Pant, who didn’t get to feature in the limited-overs in New Zealand, remains in the squad as the second-choice wicketkeeper.

The series is scheduled to kickoff in Dharamshala on March 12 with the next two ODIs scheduled to be held in Lucknow and Kolkata.

By Staff Reporter

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