Why BCCI retained Hardik Pandya's contract but axed Ishan Kishan, Shreyas Iyer | Cricket - Hindustan Times

Why BCCI retained Hardik Pandya in its central contracts list but released Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer

Feb 29, 2024 12:13 PM IST

Hardik Pandya's case is not the same as Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer. Here's why.

The BCCI cracked the whip on Shreyas Iyer and Ishan Kishan last evening when it decided to drop them from the list of central contracts. For a couple of weeks, the board had a very clear point of view which they wanted all centrally-contracted players to adhere to. i.e. – do not prioritise IPL over domestic cricket – Ranji Trophy in particular, but when neither Kisha nor Iyer took the ultimatum seriously, they had to pay the price.

Hardik Pandya had informed the BCCI that his body cannot hold up to the rigours of playing all formats. (Reuters)
Hardik Pandya had informed the BCCI that his body cannot hold up to the rigours of playing all formats. (Reuters)

Kishan hasn't played any form of competitive cricket following the T20I against Australia just after the World Cup 2023, while Iyer has been gone after the 2nd Test against England. Both cases are slightly different. Kishan wanted a break but he engaged in training sessions with Hardik Pandya at the cost of missing Jharkhand's Ranji games which didn't sit too well with the BCCI. Iyer on the other hand, claimed that back spasm hurt his chances of representing Mumbai, whereas an NCA physio claimed otherwise. In all, both Kishan and Iyer managed to upset the board, resulting in the termination of their contracts.

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Also Read: Dhruv Jurel, Sarfaraz to force a change in BCCI central contracts after India vs England 5th Test

So while it's not exactly surprising to see the BCCI come to a decision regarding Iyer and Kishan, the question remains: Why didn't Hardik Pandya receive the same treatment? After all, he too had been away with a legitimate injury but turned up to play the DY Patil tournament after undergoing rehab at the NCA and regaining fitness. As per the BCCI's directives, Hardik was included in the list of players the mail was sent to, so why doesn't the condition apply to the all-rounder?

Why Hardik's case is not similar to Ishan or Shreyas

Simple, because Hardik had long conveyed to the BCCI that his body could not handle the rigours of red-ball cricket. In fact, Hardik last played a First-Class match in 2018 – for Baroda against Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy Group A match – and has stayed away from it ever since. Hardik's last appearance in whites for India was a couple of months prior – the Southampton Test against England and it's important to note that it was the same year when Hardik first encountered his back problem. Remember the 2018 Asia Cup, where he crashed on to the ground after bowling a delivery and had to be stretchered off? That's where Hardik's dreaded affair with his back started, eventually reaching a stage where it required surgery.

Hardik underwent a surgery for the same in September of 2020, which cost him almost a year's worth of cricket. But as is the case with champion cricketers like Hardik, he found a way back. Hardik made a triumphant return in IPL 2022 and led Gujarat Titans to victory in their maiden season. That Hardik was back as a batter and bowler in full tilt even earned him a promotion as he took over charge of the India's T20I team with Rohit Sharma channelling all his energy and focus to prepare for the ODI World Cup.

Hardik, a regular in ODIs and T20Is for India, may not have said it out loud, but he, his teammates and the entire BCCI is aware that his body cannot hold up if he plays Tests on top as well. Hardik briefly addressed it during a press conference last year when he said that he hasn't earned his place in the Test team and will only make a comeback after going through the grind. And that's absolutely fine. Given the rigours of international cricket, subjecting Hardik to red-ball on top of white-ball could result in a career-suicide which the BCCI wants to prevent at all costs.

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