Hardik Pandya rules himself out of WTC final against Australia, cites ethics
Mumbai/UNI: India all-rounder Hardik Pandya said it would be "ethically not right" on his part to take up a spot in India's possible World Test Championship squad.
Pandya has not played Test cricket for India since Sept 2018 and has been limited to only playing white-ball cricket due to constant injuries.
However, with India qualifying for the World Test Championship, he was asked at the pre-match press conference ahead of the first ODI against Australia if he would be ready to don the whites again for the one-off game at The Oval.
While Pandya's presence does give India an edge with the bat, especially in the absence of Rishabh Pant, as well as the ball in swing-friendly English conditions, the all-rounder was quick to rule himself out for the ultimate Test.
On being quizzed if he would be tempted to return, Pandya said, "To be honest, no. I am ethically very strong in my life. I haven’t done 10% to reach there. I am not even a part of the 1%. So me coming there and taking someone's place will ethically not go well with me.
"If I want to play Test cricket, I will go through the grind, I will earn my position and then come back. For that reason, to be very honest, I will not be available or play the World Test Championship Final, or any future test matches until I feel that I have earned my spot."
The first ODI against Australia will be the first time Hardik will captain India in the 50-over format, though he has already led the side in T20Is on numerous occasions.
India will be without Rohit Sharma for the first game of the series but the regular skipper is set to return for the remaining two encounters.
Sharma's absence in the first ODI also leaves a gap at the top of the order. Shubman Gill's dream run in the 50-over format in 2023 has made him one of the first names on the team sheet and he will be partnered by Ishan Kishan at the Wankhede tomorrow, as confirmed by skipper Hardik.
The last time Kishan opened in the 50-over format, he smashed a double ton (210 off 131 balls).
The series also provides both teams with the opportunity to test themselves against each other keeping the Cricket World Cup in mind.
Hardik, when asked about World Cup preparation and India's dismal knockout record of late in Men's ICC events, spoke about the importance of bilateral series for preparation.
"We are not trying anything new," Hardik said. "We will play according to the situation but we will try to be brave which I think in the last couple of series we have done well."
"The more challenging and closer the bilateral games get, that's the only way we can learn and start playing under pressure as well as the knockouts.
"I don't think we need to look at it (previous ICC events) right now - past is past. We are looking forward to the future and hoping for the best," he added.
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