India all-rounder Hardik Pandya has made a big statement ahead of the home series against South Africa which marks his comeback to the national team. While IPL 2022 was the first competitive tournament for Hardik after the T20 World Cup last year and he did not feature in any of the international series involving Team India, Hardik has now claimed that he was not dropped from the team but had opted for a break.
Hardik made this clarification in a video shared by his franchise Gujarat Titans. In the video, Hardik can be seen thanking the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for allowing him to take a long break to work on his fitness.
“Lot of people don’t know that I took off; It was my decision. A lot of misconception is that I was dropped. You get dropped when you are available. Thankful to the BCCI as they allowed me to take long breaks and did not even force me to come back,” the 28-year-old who led Gujarat Titans to their maiden IPL title in their first season in the competition said.
“The old Hardik will be back. Now the fans are back, it’s time for me to make comeback. A lot of matches are going to be played and I’m looking forward to it. What I did for my franchise, I will also make sure that I can also do the same for my country,” he added.
His return to form and his ability to chip in with a few overs in the middle is a huge boost to Team India as it provides a balance to the side like no other. While the likes of Rishabh Pant and Hardik can then bat at number 5 and number 6, Pandya’s presence means India can look at 4 specialist bowlers along with Hardik and Ravindra Jadeja as all-round options.
For now though, Hardik’s eyes would be on replicating his success with Gujarat Titans in Indian colors. The five-match T20I series against the Proteas begins on June 9 at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi.