“Why would you punish him..”- Aakash Chopra defends Hardik Pandya's A grade BCCI central contract

Hardik Pandya has been retained in A grade despite not playing cricket since World Cup 2023.

Hardik Pandya | GettyFormer Indian cricketer Aakash Chopra has praised the Board of Control for Cricket in India's decision to award Hardik Pandya a central contract. The BCCI revealed the list of centrally contracted players for 2023-24 on Wednesday, February 28.

Interestingly, Hardik was placed in the Grade A category, but Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan rejected contracts for failing to follow BCCI regulations when playing domestic cricket.

Multiple fans questioned BCCI’s decision and argued that Pandya had neither played international cricket nor domestic cricket since his injury in World Cup 2023, so why should he be eligible for a central contract, that too in Grade A.

Also, Pandya no longer plays Test cricket owing to his fragile back and also pointed out that Pandya did not have a history of playing domestic cricket regularly in the last few years as well.

But Aakash Chopra defended the BCCI's decision and said that Hardik cannot be punished for not playing first-class cricket, given he has not been contesting for a spot in India's Test squad.

"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," Chopra said on his YouTube Channel.

WATCH- ‘Let some players suffer’- Kapil Dev happy with BCCI excluding Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer from central contracts

"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," Chopra added.

Chopra recognized Hardik's injury concerns while emphasizing that the all-rounder never made himself unavailable. Thus, Hardik's case cannot be compared to those of Kishan and Iyer.

"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, which was October-November.

The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy was over in October-November. He was playing in 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," he added.

Hardik recently made his cricketing comeback since injuring his ankle in World Cup 2023. He is currently playing in the DY Patil T20 Cup. He will also play in the IPL 2024 where he will captain Mumbai Indians.

(India Today inputs)


By Jatin Sharma - 01 Mar, 2024

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