‘Why would you punish him…?’: Former India opener backs Hardik Pandya’s Grade A contract | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: Amid Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer‘s central contracts snub, former India opener Aakash Chopra has backed the Indian cricket board for handing Hardik Pandya a Grade A contract, pointing out the all-rounder’s case is different from that of Kishan and Iyer.
The BCCI on Wednesday rolled out the new central contracts, which saw Hardik getting a Grade A contract despite not featuring in international cricket since the ODI World Cup 2023.
However the board did not include Kishan and Iyer in the list for not playing domestic cricket.
Hardik suffered an ankle injury during the ODI World Cup 2023 in the match against Bangladesh in Pune in October and the all-rounder has been out of action ever since.
Fans on social media have often pointed out Pandya’s unavailability from domestic cricket.
However, Aakash defended the BCCI’s decision and reckoned that Hardik cannot be punished for not playing first-class cricket, given he has not been contesting for a spot in India’s Test squad.
“Hardik Pandya’s case is very simple. Why would you punish him if he has not made a mistake? He is not playing red-ball cricket. That ambition or aspiration does not exist anymore. He has not said that as such, but the truth is that he is not available at all for any Test series,” Chopra said on his YouTube Channel.
“So if you are not at all auditioning for Tests, no one will ask you to play first-class cricket. Why would you play four-day games when you don’t have that much strength in your body to bowl so many overs and have injury problems? So why should he play – fair play,” Chopra added.

Chopra also emphasised the unavailability of Hardik Pandya’s unavailability from domestic and international cricket and explained that the all-round player never missed a game like Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer, therefore Hardik’s situation cannot be compared to them.
“Let’s try to understand the chronology slightly. It will just clear up your mind why a different rule has been kept for him and why it is wrong to include him with Ishan and Shreyas. He got injured during the World Cup, that was October-November,” Chopra explained.
“The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy was over in October-November. He was playing in the World Cup for India at that time. The last match that Baroda played in the Vijay Hazare Trophy was on 5th December. He was not fit and available. He wasn’t practicing anywhere but was recovering from his injury in the NCA,” he added.
Hardik Pandya returned to competitive cricket at the DY Patil T20 Cup leading the Reliance 1 team. He picked 2 for 22 against Bharat Petroleum.

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