Kohli rules Pandya out as specialist batsman for Australia tests


MELBOURNE (Reuters) – All-rounder Hardik Pandya will not be considered for India’s test series against Australia starting next week despite starring with the bat in the white-ball series, captain Virat Kohli said.

Pandya was named man-of-the-series after the three Twenty20 matches and scored two half-centuries in the preceding one-day series against the hosts.

But the explosive 27-year-old only bowled a handful of overs in the second ODI as he continues building to peak fitness following back surgery last year.

Pandya was overlooked in India’s initial squad for the four-test series starting at Adelaide Oval next week, and Kohli said he would not be picked as a specialist batsman alone.

“He’s been outstanding,” Kohli said after India’s 12-run defeat in the third and final T20 in Sydney on Tuesday.

“He couldn’t bowl and we knew he’s not going to bowl … We need him to bowl. That’s when he becomes that one guy who brings a lot of balance for us.

“He himself wants to get back into the bowling space and be available as a pure all-rounder in tests, which becomes way more important.

“Over five days, you need a little extra from a player in that role. So he understands that and is working really hard to come back.”

Kohli top-scored with a 61-ball 85 on Tuesday and heads into the test series in fine fettle after leading India to a 2-1 series win in the T20s following their 2-1 defeat in the one-dayers.

India will have a final warmup against Australia A at the Sydney Cricket Ground from Friday, a three-day pink ball match to prepare for the first day-night test against Australia.

Kohli said it was not decided whether he would feature in the match or take a few days’ rest before Adelaide.

“If I feel great I’ll definitely play,” he said.

“When I get into a good headspace, I feel like I can play and switch between formats … I’m in the right headspace.”

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Lincoln Feast.


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