MELBOURNE, June 7: Australian great Ian Chappell feels India should pick Hardik Pandya in the Test side when they make the trip Down Under later this year as the temperamental all-rounder would be crucial to handling the challenge posed by a strong home batting line-up.
Pandya hasn�t featured in Tests since 2018 and has only recently recovered from a career-threatening back injury. The big-hitting medium pacer is a vital cog in India�s limited-overs set-up. India and Australia are set to clash in a full series, including four Tests, beginning October and lasting till January 2021.
�It will help if Hardik Pandya is available. He gives India an extra bowling option to maintain the pressure when the leading fast bowlers need a rest,� Chappell wrote on his column for ESPNCricinfo.
Pandya had recently spoken about the challenge that Test cricket is for him now given his injury-prone back, which needed surgery last year. He said that he understands his importance in limited-overs format.
�This is Pandya�s chance to gradually build up overs in the three Tests before the SCG match, where he could act as the third seamer so that a second spinner can be included,� Chappell said.
�Having Pandya at seven would necessitate Rishabh Pant keeping and batting at six.�
Chappell feels Indian selectors will have to make tough calls while zeroing in on spinners with the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav to choose from.
�Choosing a spinner will prove a major headache for the Indian selectors. R Ashwin has a great overall record, but not so much in Australia.
�Ravindra Jadeja�s all-round talents and improved bowling form make him a legitimate challenger, while Kuldeep Yadav�s wrist-spin is the biggest wicket-taking threat on Australian pitches. The decision will call for brave selections,� he reckoned.
Chappell said India�s biggest challenge in the Test series will be navigating through a strong Australian batting line-up, which now doesn�t rely too heavily on David Warner and Steven Smith.
Under Virat Kohli, India scripted history when they earned their maiden Test series triumph Down Under in 2018-19, after trying for seven decades.
However, Australia are a different team now with Smith and Warner back in the side having served one-year ball-tampering bans in addition to the rise of young Marnus Labuschagne.
�India�s biggest challenge will be navigating a strong Australian batting line-up. In addition to Smith and Warner, the meteoric rise of Marnus Labuschagne at No. 3 has helped solidify the batting,� Chappell wrote.
�Australia are now far less reliant for success on big contributions from Smith and Warner,� he added.
For the home side, Chappell feels the choice of bowlers is straightforward. However, the former captain is not too confident about the abilities of opener Joe Burns. � PTI