Former Indian cricketer Nikhil Chopra has revealed that he sees a potential demotion for Hardik Pandya in the upcoming contract list by the BCCI. The all-rounder, who has lost out on his place in the Test side, was largely out of contention for a spot in the playing XI in the previous calendar year.
Pandya effectively played as a pure batsman in most of Team India’s matches last year. He played in the home campaign against England, the away tour of Sri Lanka and the T20 World Cup, but was far from his best. Injuries have played their part as well due to which he has been unable to bowl long spells in particular.
Speaking on the Khelneeti podcast on Youtube, Chopra said:
“Potential is definitely a factor when it comes to promotion, but you also have to see how the player has done in the chances he has availed. I won’t be surprised if Hardik Pandya gets demoted from A to B, because he has not performed well.”
“He can be promoted in the next cycle, but in the meantime, an example has to be set for the other players, that you can get demoted if you don’t perform.”
Chopra also feels underperforming senior players like Cheteshwar Pujara, Ishant Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane could be demoted. He believes these players can now become backup players, having done well for Indian cricket at their peak. The 48-year-old added:
“Pujara, Rahane and Ishant Sharma have not performed well. The demotion of these players is an indication that they will be replaced by other players in the future. They are backup players now, they have served Indian cricket well, but they will only be called up when required. It is clear to see in which direction that the selection committee is thinking.”
The emergence of Mohammad Siraj has effectively put Ishant Sharma out of contention for the Indian pace attack. Meanwhile, with Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari and Suryakumar Yadav knocking on the door, it will be difficult for Pujara and Rahane to retain their place. The duo’s recent performances haven’t offered much optimism either.
“Rishabh Pant can maybe go from an A contract to an A+ one” – Nikhil Chopra
Chopra also enlisted the names of the players who deserve a bump to their current contract. He feels exciting wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant could land the highest possible contract due to his involvement in all three formats.
The former cricketer also expects the spinners to be promoted due to the team’s vision concerning the 2023 World Cup, which is slated to be held in India. Chopra said:
“Rishabh Pant can maybe go from an A contract to an A+ one. Shreyas Iyer, Axar Patel, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill and Deepak Chahar are some of the names that should be promoted to a B contract. Even Chahal and Sundar, considering the 2023 World Cup.”
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The waning of Pandya as the team’s leading fast-bowling all-rounder could potentially see Deepak Chahar land a B contract with the Indian side. Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari could also land promotions if their existing counterparts in the middle order are demoted.