Much before they became an integral part of the Mumbai IPL squad, the Pandya brothers made a splash as an all-round pair for the Baroda domestic side. With Hardik Pandya not being included in the Indian Test side that is currently touring Australia, the brothers were expected to reunite put on a show for the Baroda team at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021. However, it seems like the swashbuckling brothers are not going to get together for their home team this time, as Hardik Pandya's name has not been included in the Baroda squad.
ट्रोफ़ी हमारी है !! pic.twitter.com/rZJVupJvtL— Baroda Cricket Association (@cricbaroda) January 10, 2021
While Baroda will be without the all-round talent of the mightily in-form Hardik Pandya, they will have the other Pandya brother, not just in their ranks, but rather leading their ranks. After a brilliant IPL 2020 campaign with Mumbai, Krunal Pandya has been handed the reins of the of Baroda side for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2021. He will be taking over from Kedar Devdhar, who lead the side to a 1st place finish in Group A in the last edition of the tournament. Considering that the team closely missed out on a place in the semi-finals last season - by virtue of net run rate - under Devdhar, the pressure will be on Krunal Pandya this time around.
With 2 wins, Baroda are currently the joint leaders - along with last season's winners, Karnataka, and Gujarat - for the most title wins in the tournament. Looking to go ahead of the pack with three titles, Baroda have already gotten off to a good start in the tournament. Krunal Pandya shined in his first game as captain, scoring a massive 76 off 42 to help his side put 168 on the board. In a close chase that saw Uttrakhand make 163, Pandya's 2-33 also stood out as the best bowling figures for the Baroda side.
This will make Hardik Pandya's miss - in all probability a move to help manage his workload - much more bearable for the team. Hardik Pandya has been playing nonstop since the IPL 2020 in September. While he did not bowl at all in the IPL, Pandya did bowl a few overs during India's white-ball games in Australia last year. All these efforts are being made in an effort to ease Pandya into the game following his back surgery early in 2020. He should be seen in action against England next month and then at the IPL 2021.
Krunal Pandya (C), Deepak Hooda, Kedar Devdhar, Ninad Rathwa, Smit Patel, Vishnu Solanki, Abhimanyu Rajput, Dhruv Patel, Atit Sheth, Babasafi Pathan, L Meriwala, Mohit Mongia, Bhanu Pania, Kartik Kakade, Chintal Gandhi, Pradeep Yadav, Soyeb Sopariya, Ansh Patel, Parth Kohli, Bhargav Bhatt, Pratik Ghodadra, Pratyush Kumar
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