Hardik Pandya is likely to join the Indian Test team for Australia before the Boxing day Test match kicks off in Melbourne from December 26. Pandya, who was out of action for nearly three months due to a back injury, proved his fitness by shining with both bat and ball in a Ranji game against Mumbai.
The Indian Express understands that the selection committee has left it on Pandya to take a call when he wants to join the Indian team in Australia. The Indian team management had already conveyed to national selectors to send Pandya to Australia once he is fit and ready. Pandya scored 73 from 137 balls, with 8 fours and a six, and nearly dragged Baroda to a first-innings lead but he had left a favourable impression with his overall performance. He had taken a five-wicket haul in the first innings from 18.5 overs and continued to shine with the ball in the second, finishing with figures of 6-4-4-2.
The national selector Sarandeep Singh was in attendance at Wankhede stadium to see Pandya bowl and had a word with him on Friday after the day’s play. Pandya was out of competitive cricket for nearly three months due to back injury he faced while playing match at the Asia Cup in Dubai in September.
Pandya’s knock had taken Baroda close to Mumbai’s 465 but his exit meant they fell short by 29 runs. The innings was not without some drama. When he was on 41, an inside edge saw him dragging a ball on to his stumps but the umpires called him back as replays confirmed that it was a no ball from Shivam Dubey. Pandya smashed the next ball through the off side and went berserk in the next over against left-arm seamer Royston Dias, blasting successive fours and finishing off with a six. The field was spread out but every now and then, Pandya managed to get the odd boundary.
Mumbai came back with a steady and accurate Akash Parkar, the mediumpacer, who stunned Baroda with a double strike. Bhargav Bhatt edge a ball in the off-stump channel and Rishi Arote was bowled the very next ball. Pandya responded with an edged four off Dias but got a thin edge next ball when trying to flick, giving a catch to the ‘keeper Aditya Tare.
Earlier, the overnight batsman Aditya Waghmode went on to score 114 runs whereas other notable contribution came from Sharma, who scored decent 51. Mumbai managed to get a 29-run lead and though Dias ended with four wickets, it was the medium-pacer Shubham Ranjane, who kept alive the contest, with his match turning spell of 10-3-23-3 post lunch. His quick wickets of Baroda’s middle-order Shivalik Sharma, Yusuf Pathan and Swapnil Singh had put Baroda under the pump and though Pandya did his best, Baroda fell short of the lead.
Brief scores: Mumbai 465 and 20 for 2 (Vikrant Auti batting 2, Siddhesh Lad batting 2; H Pandya 2/4) versus Baroda 436 (Aditya Waghmode 114, Vishnu Solanki 133, Shivalik Sharma 51, Hardik Pandya 73; R Dias 4/99, S Ranjane 3/62).