India’s all-rounder Hardik Pandya suffered an ankle injury during the 2023 World Cup, forcing him to miss subsequent matches against Australia and the current South Africa tour in December. However, a recent report suggests that hopes of his comeback for the three-match T20I series against Afghanistan in January might not materialise.
This development raises concerns for India, particularly regarding the captaincy for the home series vs Afghanistan. The upcoming three T20Is against Afghanistan, scheduled from January 11 to 17, hold significance as they mark India’s final T20I engagements before the T20 World Cup in June. With Suryakumar Yadav also sidelined due to an ankle injury, the absence of both key players poses a leadership void. The selectors face a daunting task in reevaluating their options for captaincy in this scenario.
PTI’s report suggests that Hardik’s recovery from the ankle injury is uncertain, indicating his probable absence not only from the Afghanistan series but also potentially from the IPL 2024 season.
“There is no update on Hardik’s fitness status as of now and one can say there remains a big question mark of him being available before the end of IPL,” a BCCI source informed PTI.
🚨 Update 🚨
Hardik Pandya’s injury is being assessed at the moment and he is being taken for scans.
— BCCI (@BCCI) October 19, 2023
Such a setback could significantly impact both Team India and Mumbai Indians. With regards to the national team, selectors might consider the return of Rohit Sharma as a potential captain against Afghanistan. However, if Rohit extends his break, Ravindra Jadeja emerges as an alternative choice given his vice-captaincy to Suryakumar in the South Africa T20Is. Furthermore, Ruturaj Gaikwad, who previously led India to success in the Asian Games, is sidelined due to a finger injury.
Doubts Over Hardik’s IPL 2024 Participation
Meanwhile, Mumbai Indians had recently appointed Hardik as their captain for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 season, concluding Rohit Sharma’s decade-long tenure as captain, during which the franchise claimed five titles. Hardik’s return to Mumbai from Gujarat Titans was finalised via an all-cash transaction at the end of last month. Hardik’s possible absence might prompt the franchise to reassess their leadership strategies, introducing unexpected dynamics to the upcoming season.