Hardik Pandya has been away from cricket for over two months and it was his lack of fitness that affected India's combination at last year's T20 World Cup.
The Men In Blue dearly missed an additional bowling option in the UAE last year which saw India register their first-ever loss in a World Cup encounter against arch-rivals Pakistan.
Hardik's fitness was a cause of concern in the build-up to the previous T20 World Cup and as we are gearing up to the next global event, nothing seems to have changed. After the marquee tournament late in 2021, India hosted New Zealand and toured South Africa but Pandya missed both.
India won't get another Hardik Pandya. pic.twitter.com/dECSkJ2v12— काव्यांश (@KohliisGoat) January 21, 2022
The all-rounder was also left out of the upcoming limited-overs series against the West Indies at home. While the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) gave updates about most of their star players' availability, there was no word from the board on Pandya.
Team India have tried many options to find a replacement for Hardik but no one has managed to leave their mark in international cricket yet.
A look at Team Ahmedabad's Player Picks.
What do you make of it ? pic.twitter.com/kzOXlBVJ46
The 28-year-old was appointed as the captain of the Ahmedabad franchise, who will be making their debut with the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League.
Speaking on his appointment Pandya said that he has always been a leader in the group whether it was for the Mumbai Indians or the Indian Team, so when the offer from Ahmedabad came, he went ahead with it.
Pandya also said he aims to be at the peak of his powers when the next T20 World Cup comes as he wants to win the trophy for the country. The all-rounder added that he is training keeping the marquee tournament in mind.
“My main aim is to be at my peak when the World Cup happens. All my training, planning, preparation is keeping the World Cup in mind. I want to win the World Cup for the country. It will make me really happy and proud. It is like an obsession with me. IPL will give me a very good preparatory platform for the World Cup but all the hard work ultimately is for the Indian team and the World Cup,” Pandya was quoted as saying by The Economic Times.
All w̶a̶r̶m̶e̶d̶ fired up pic.twitter.com/1z8NDwtSxQ— hardik pandya (@hardikpandya7) October 20, 2021
Pandya's words gave an impression that the all-rounder has taken his place in the Indian team for granted and fans were quick to point it out and school the 28-year-old to prove his worth before thinking of playing in the World Cup.
Matlab confidence dekho - ki bhai selection toh ho hi jaana hai https://t.co/v32nktXwKl— Abhijit (@cricabhi) January 30, 2022
pehle select hoja bahi https://t.co/5Rg15TqSEI— Selva Rahul (@SelvaRahul6) January 30, 2022January 30, 2022
Who told you you're in the WC team? https://t.co/zWV2Gi5Owc— Back Foot Punch (@iam_adarsh1) January 30, 2022
Trolling aside, India would benefit immensely if Pandya could return to his best.
The Men in Blue last won a World Cup in 2011 when MS Dhoni-led team lifted the trophy in Mumbai. It has been 11 years and with a new captain and coach, as fans, we can't wait for this trophy drought to end.