Pandya Makes Most of India Comeback, KL Rahul Still Struggling
Having made headlines for the last month almost entirely for their controversial appearance on a TV chat show, Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul are back pursuing their primary occupations – playing cricket.
While the BCCI is yet to decide the official quantum of punishment for their controversial remarks, the two cricketers returned to the field after the CoA’s decision to lift their suspensions on 24 January, 2018.
Hardik Pandya joined the Indian team in New Zealand and has played three ODIs since, while KL Rahul has had three below par outings for India A against the England Lions.
Pandya’s Power-Packed Comeback
Hardik Pandya in fact was making a ‘comeback’ in every sense of the word, having not played international cricket since he was stretched off from India’s Asia Cup match against Pakistan on 19 September 2018.
After regaining fitness, Pandya was recalled in the middle of the Test series in Australia but didn't get a game and then the suspension forced him to miss five international fixtures by the time he flew down from India to New Zealand.
In his first match in almost four months, Pandya’s 2/45 helped India beat New Zealand by 7 wickets. The second outing saw a major Indian batting collapse that resulted in the team folding for 92 in 30.5 overs, their seventh lowest ODI total.
However, it was the fifth ODI against the Kiwis on Sunday where Pandya really stepped up and lived up to his billing as the team’s number one all-rounder. He walked into bat with the team at 190/6 and smashed a quick-fire 45 off just 22 deliveries to help them set a 253-run target. During his short innings, Pandya whacked leggie Todd Astle for three sixes in as many deliveries. His cameo included two fours and five sixes. Pandya then returned to assist with the bowling as well and picked the wickets of Ross Taylor and Mitchell Santner.
KL Rahul’s Bad Form Continues
KL Rahul’s time in the Indian team was under threat much before the chat show was aired by Star World. An injury to Prithvi Shaw saw him become the first-choice opener in the Test series against Australia but the Bangalore batsman failed to make the most of this opportunity, scoring just 57 in 3 matches. His highest score during the Australia tests was 44.
So when the players’ suspensions were lifted by the BCCI and Pandya was asked to join the team in New Zealand, Rahul was included in the India A squad to play the last 3 one-day games against the England Lions.
His highest-score in the three outings has been 42 with a 13 and a duck also added to the tally. However, India A coach Rahul Dravid believes his namesake can make his way into the big league very soon.