Ian Chappell wants India to pick Hardik Pandya in test team for Australia tour
New Delhi/UNI: Former Australian captain Ian Chappell feels India should pick Hardik Pandya in their Test team against the Aussies when they make the trip Down Under later this year, saying that the all-rounder can give the visitors an extra seam bowling option and depth in batting.
Pandya hasn't played Tests cricket since 2018 and has only recently recovered from a career-threatening back injury. In fact, after his debut, the Gujarat-born has only played 11 matches in the longest format.
India and Australia are set to play a full-fledged series, including four Tests, beginning October and lasting till January 2021.
"It will help if Hardik Pandya is available. He gives India an extra bowling option to maintain the pressure when the leading fast bowlers need a rest," Chappell wrote his column for 'ESPNCricinfo'.
Notably, Pandya had recently said that he was wary of playing Tests due to the injury risk that his back carries, adding that he understands his importance in limited-overs format.
“This is Pandya’s chance to gradually build up overs in the three Tests before the SCG match, where he could act as the third seamer so that a second spinner can be included.
“Having Pandya at seven would necessitate Rishabh Pant keeping and batting at six,” Chappell said.
Chappell also mentioned that it won’t be an easy task for the Indian team to pick a spinner in the playing XI, with the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav to choose from.
"Choosing a spinner will prove a major headache for the Indian selectors. R Ashwin has a great overall record, but not so much in Australia' , he said.
"Ravindra Jadeja's all-round talents and improved bowling form make him a legitimate challenger, while Kuldeep Yadav's wrist-spin is the biggest wicket-taking threat on Australian pitches. The decision will call for brave selections," he added.
According to Chappel, India's biggest challenge in the Test series will be to deal with a strong Australian batting line-up, which now doesn't rely too much on the likes of David Warner and Steven Smith.
Virat Kohli led India scripted history when they won their maiden Test series triumph Down Under in 2018-19.
However, Australia have become a stronger team now with the return of Smith and Warner, after serving one-year ball-tampering bans.
"India's biggest challenge will be navigating a strong Australian batting line-up. In addition to Smith and Warner, the meteoric rise of Marnus Labuschagne at No. 3 has helped solidify the batting," Chappell wrote.
"Australia are now far less reliant for success on big contributions from Smith and Warner," he added.