Hours after the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) Committee of Administrators (CoA) lifted their suspensions on Thursday, all-rounder Hardik Pandya and batsman KL Rahul were named in India and India A squads respectively, signalling a return to normalcy for the duo's fledgling careers.
Pandya will join India's limited-overs squad in New Zealand and Rahul the India A squad that is currently playing a 50-over series against England Lions in Thiruvananthapuram.
Once the decision was the made, the BCCI issued a statement stating: “The above matter and decision has been taken with the concurrence of the Learned Amicus Curiae, Mr. P.S. Narasimha. In view of the above, the suspension orders dated 11.01.2019 is immediately lifted pending appointment and adjudication of the allegations by the BCCI Ombudsman.”
The duo was originally suspended by the CoA on 11 January for their sexist and misogynist comments on a television talk show.
Their fate and sanction, if any, was up to the discretion of the ombudsman after the two-member CoA — Vinod Rai and Diana Edulji — found no middle ground on the next step of action.
The matter then reached the Supreme Court, and the apex body decided on 17 January to wait for the Ombudsman to conduct a disciplinary inquiry and propose sanction should he/she deem necessary. The court will resume hearing on 5 February.
Pandya was sent back home from Australia a day before the start of the One-Day International series, with Vijay Shankar called up to replace him for the ODIs in Australia and New Zealand. Shubman Gill replaced KL Rahul for the limited-overs leg in New Zealand and will continue to remain with the squad.
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Hardik was speaking ahead of the T20 showpiece's marquee clash between India and Pakistan in Dubai.
Pandya's fitness is a concern heading into the tournament as he did not bowl at all in the IPL. The team management has repeatedly stated that Pandya's bowling is crucial for the team's balance.
India have also sent back four of their designated net bowlers back to India as the tournament proper starts on Sunday.