India all-rounder Hardik Pandya ruled out of New Zealand Tests

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Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been ruled out of the upcoming Test series against New Zealand due to fitness issues.

The 26-year-old Pandya, who underwent back surgery in October, had hoped to recover in time for the two-Test series in New Zealand. However, his rehabilitation has taken longer than expected, and the Baroda-lad has not been cleared to make a comeback this month.

“Hardik Pandya has been ruled out of the upcoming Test series against New Zealand. He will be under rehab at the National Cricket Academy until he regains full match fitness,” BCCI said in a release on Saturday, February 1.

Hardik has not played Test cricket since the Southampton match against England in September 2018 and made his last appearance in the T20 format against South Africa in September 2019.

Recently, Hardik was included by the selectors as part of India A squad for the two one-dayers. However, Vijay Shankar was subsequently named as his replacement, adding further intrigue surrounding his return.

The recovery from the back surgery is always tricky, and Hardik too exchanged messages with Indian captain Virat Kohli, saying no one should undergo a similar experience. “I was emotionally challenging. From lifting 100 kgs, I was not able to lift my legs,” Hardik told India Today in an interview.

India plays a three-match ODI series against South Africa at home after the ongoing New Zealand tour.

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