India all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been ruled out of the ODI and T20I series against Australia due to lower back stiffness.
Ravindra Jadeja has been named the replacement. BCCI said, in a press release, that Pandya will undergo strength and conditioning work at NCA in Bengaluru. The statement read, "The BCCI Medical team decided to rest the all-rounder and let him undergo strength and conditioning work for his lower back at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru. Mr. Pandya will begin his strength work from next week."
"The T20I squad will now consist of 14 members. Mr. Ravindra Jadeja has been named replacement for Hardik Pandya for the 5 ODIs," it added.
— BCCI (@BCCI) February 21, 2019
Pandya suffered the back injury during an Asia Cup encounter in 2018 and missed the remaining tournament and also the Test tour of Australia. Later on, he was embroiled in a sexism controversy and was suspended from the Australia ODI and T20I series by BCCI's CoA.
After his suspension was lifted in late January, he flew to New Zealand to take part in the limited-overs tour where he did well both bat and ball.
The 25-year-old has so far played 11 Tests, 45 ODIs and 38 T20Is.
His absence from the ODI squad gives Jadeja another opportunity to stake his claim in the squad for the World Cup to be played in the UK in May-July.
BCCI has not stated for how long Pandya would be out due to the injury. The India vs Australia T20I series begins on 24 February in Visakhapatnam and the second match will be played on 27 February in Bengaluru. The ODI series will kick off on 2 March and will end on 13 March. The five ODIs will be staged in Hyderabad (2 March), Nagpur (5 March), Ranchi (8 March), Mohali (10 March) and Delhi (13 March).
Not to forget that, on 23 March, the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League will commence. Pandya plays for Mumbai Indians in the IPL and the franchise will hope that the all-rounder is back to his full fitness by that time. Indian cricket team should also be a little worried as the much-awaited 2019 World Cup is now less than 100 days away and Pandya could play a key role for the team in the tournament.