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‘Why would you punish Hardik Pandya…’: Irfan Pathan’s argument challenged by ex-India teammate

Irfan Pathan’s argument was challenged by his ex-teammate, who explained why the two scenarios shouldn’t be compared.

India legend Irfan Pathan on Thursday questioned BCCI’s rule on annual contracts after Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer were excluded from the list over ignoring the Ranji Trophy despite a strict order from the board, while Hardik Pandya, who also did not play any matches in domestic cricket during the considered period, was retained. The former all-rounder’s argument was, however, challenged by his ex-teammate Aakash Chopra, who explained why the two scenarios shouldn’t be compared.

Irfan Pathan had questioned BCCI contract rule pertaining to Hardik Pandya

“They are talented cricketers, both Shreyas and Ishan. Hoping they bounce back and come back stronger. If players like Hardik don’t want to play red-ball cricket, should he and others like him participate in white-ball domestic cricket when they aren’t on national duty? If this doesn’t apply to all, then Indian cricket won’t achieve the desired results!” Pathan posted after BCCI revealed the annual retainership for the 2023-24 season.

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Ishan, who reportedly took a mental health break before the start of the South Africa Test series, was previously in Grade C, while Iyer, who was dropped from the Indian Test side last month after a poor run of form, was in Grade B. Both lost their contracts, but Hardik was included in Grade A.

Speaking on YouTube, Chopra explained that Hardik should not be punished for not playing first-class cricket as his body won’t allow him to go through the rigours of the traditional format. Hardik’s last appearance in red-ball cricket was in 2018.

“Hardik Pandya’s case is very simple. Why would you punish him if he has not made a mistake? He is not playing red-ball cricket. That ambition or aspiration does not exist anymore. He has not said that as such, but the truth is that he is not available at all for any Test series. So if you are not at all auditioning for Tests, no one will ask you to play first-class cricket. Why would you play four-day games when you don’t have that much strength in your body to bowl so many overs and have injury problems? So why should he play – fair play,” he said.

Chopra explained why Hardik did not participate even in the white-ball domestic tournaments in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy. Reminding critics of the chronology of events, the former India opener said that the all-rounder had injured himself in October during the ODI World Cup last year, which was around the same time when the domestic T20 tournament ended while the final match played by Baroda in the List A event was in December, when Hardik was still recovering from his ankle injury.

“Let’s try to understand the chronology slightly. It will just clear up your mind why a different rule has been kept for him and why it is wrong to include him with Ishan and Shreyas. He got injured during the World Cup, that was October-November. The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy was over in October-November. He was playing the World Cup for India at that time. The last match that Baroda played in the Vijay Hazare Trophy was on 5th December. “He was not fit and available. He wasn’t practicing anywhere but was recovering from his injury in the NCA,” Chopra explained.

Hardik has, however, reportedly vowed to be part of domestic white-ball events when away from national duty.


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