New Delhi: Former India selector Sarandeep Singh has backed the current committee's call to ignore Hardik Pandya from the Test squad and said the all-rounder doesn't fit into the playing XI even in the shorter formats if he can't bowl his quota of overs.
After undergoing a back surgery in 2019, Hardik has not bowled regularly since his comeback and not being able to offer his all-round skills cost him a place in the Indian Test squad for the UK tour.
Sarandeep, whose tenure ended with the historic tour of Australia earlier this year, was also surprised that a rare talent like Prithvi Shaw did not even make the standbys for the England tour.
"The selectors' decision to ignore Hardik for Tests is understandable. He has not been able bowl regularly after his surgery. I feel he has to bowl 10 overs in ODIs and four in T20s to be part of the playing XI even in shorter formats. He can't just play as a batsman," Sarandeep, a former India spinner, told PTI.
"If Hardik doesn't bowl, it disturbs the balance of the side hugely. You have to play an extra bowler because of that and someone like Surykumar Yadav has to miss out. As we saw in the ODI series against England and Australia, we can't play with five bowling options.
"Then team now has other all-rounders in Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Jaddu is back, Shardul Thakur can also be an all-rounder, he has shown that. They all can do the job if Hardik can't bowl."
Talking about Shaw not being picked for the UK tour, Sarandeep said it is way too early to sideline a batsman like him.
"He has the potential to do what Sehwag did for India. You can't sideline him so early in his career. He has scored tons of runs in domestic cricket after being dropped post Australia tour. He has corrected his technical flaws also and look how he played in the IPL.
"You have to back a talent like Shaw and even someone like Shubman Gill (he is in the team but did not gets runs against England at home) for that matter."
The four standbys picked for the UK tour are opener Abhimanyu Easwaran, pacers Avesh Khan, Prasid Krishna and Arzan Nagwaswalla.
"Priyank Panchal got a hundred for India A in New Zealand. You have not picked him. You have not picked Devdutt Padikkal who also scored tons of runs. For the left-arm pacer's slot, I fail to understand why Jaydev Unadkat is being ignored.
"He picked 67 wickets (a record) in the last Ranji Trophy and a lot of them came on the flat track of Rajkot," added Sarandeep.
Sarandeep, who works for ONGC, is pulling off night shifts at the moment, working with the COVID-relief team of his employer.
"It is a massive company. I am part of the team which is helping its people all around the country with oxygen supplies, arranging plasma for the needy and finding hospital beds. It is the least we can do in these testing times," he added.