Team India has already reached the pinnacle of ICC Test rankings multiple times and asserted their supremacy by reaching the final of the first two World Test Championship finals. However, on both occasions, they failed to cross the final hurdle – against New Zealand in 2021 and Australia in 2023. Despite this team fighting tooth and nail, beating the best teams that there are, India haven’t been able to win the ultimate prize in Test cricket. Think about it. India have won back-to-back Test series in Australia – becoming the only team to do so – drew in England and South Africa, and have been unstoppable at home as their 2-1 and 4-1 triumphs against Australia and England, respectively, demonstrate.

Sunil Gavaskar’s ‘Hardik Pandya’ suggestion could be risky(Getty Images)

Having said that, the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, who celebrates his 75th birthday today, has suggested a way to make India ‘invincible’ in Test cricket. Only two teams in the over-100-year history of Test cricket has earned that moniker: the mighty Australians – first in 1948 under Don Bradman and in 2002 under Steve Waugh. In football, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal achieved it in 2004 but besides The Gunners, no team has come close to be called by that term.

But as per Gavaskar, the inclusion of one player in the Test squad can land India in the same territory: none other than Hardik Pandya. The former India captain, in a chat with RevSportz, highlighted that ahead of India’s busy Test calendar this year – two Tests against Bangladesh, three against New Zealand and the five-match Border-Gavaskar series against Australia Down Under, the management should talk to Hardik and figure out a way to bring him back in the Test setup.

“Yes, absolutely, they can. I think in the next two months, there should be an attempt to convince Hardik Pandya to play Test cricket. If he bowls ten overs a day to go with his batting, this Indian team could become invincible, and they can surely go on and win the WTC and beat Australia in Australia,” Gavaskar said.

Hardik’s Test career

Hardik has played 11 Tests for India, scoring 523 runs and picking 17 wickets. He last played a Test for India in 2018 against England before being left out of it entirely due to injury and workload management issues. Hardik has himself stated that he is not ready to play Tests for India because his body won’t be able to take in the rigours of playing all three formats. In ODIs and T20Is, Hardik has emerged as a match-winner for India – evident in his recent performances – picking up 11 wickets and scoring 144 runs in the T20 World Cup 2024. But whether the team management listen to Gavaskar’s advice and risk exposing Pandya to the rigours of Test cricket is uncertain.

Pandya has put in quite a few impressive shows for India in Tests. In 2017 against Sri Lanka, he scored a fifty on debut and followed it with a 70-ball century in the next game. Against South Africa in 2018, Hardik blasted 93 on a tough Cape Town surface as the rest of the batters around him crumbled. The same year, he picked up a five-wicket-haul and scored a fifty against England at Trent Bridge as India won by a handsome margin of 203 runs. It was Hardik’s penultimate Test for India.