'Why would you punish him' - Aakash Chopra opines Hardik Pandya's case can't be compared to Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer's BCCI contract snub

The former India opener explains the reason to include Hardik Pandya into the annual central contracts list.

Aakash Chopra and Hardik Pandya?width=963&height=541&resizemode=4
Hardik Pandya was retained in Group A despite not playing competitive cricket since he got injured in the World Cup 2023.

Former India cricketer and commentator Aakash Chopra believes that Hardik Pandya’s case cannot be compared with the snub of contracts for Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer. Recently, BCCI announced its annual central contracts list for 2024-25 in which Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer were omitted.

BCCI’s step has raised several eyebrows as both the players were integral part of India’s white-ball teams some months ago. Iyer is still the first-choice No. 4 batter in India’s ODI playing XI. He performed exceptionally well in the 2023 ODI World Cup and scored 530 runs at an average of 66.25.

Both Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer recently skipped Ranji Trophy matches. While Kishan was training with his IPL captain Hardik Pandya in Baroda, Iyer was observed in KKR’s pre-season camp in Kolkata. This didn’t go down well with the selectors, who decided to omit them from the annual contracts list.

But Hardik Pandya, another player who has missed the Ranji Trophy matches, was retained in the contract in Group A. The decision came as a surprise and many cricketers demanded equality while giving away the contracts.

‘That ambition does not exist anymore:’ Aakash Chopra about Hardik Pandya’s Test future

Aakash Chopra, former India opener explained Hardik Pandya’s case on his YouTube channel. He revealed the reason why the allrounder was retained despite not playing in the ongoing Ranji Trophy.

"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.

"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 explained.

The former India opener further defended Hardik Pandya’s inclusion by stating that he didn’t have any white-ball tournaments to play in domestic cricket.

"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 said.

"The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy was over in October-November. He was playing 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," Chopra further added.

Read: India wicketkeeper speaks on BCCI’s central contracts

Hardik Pandya is a rare fast-bowling allrounder that Indian cricket has seen for a while. He has the ability to clock 140 kph and is also a fantastic finisher with the bat. His all-round skills and captaincy skills will be crucial for India in the upcoming years.