7:47 AM ET
Hardik Pandya, who is set to return to competitive cricket in Baroda's match against Mumbai in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy, is also targeting a comeback to the Indian Test side that is currently playing in Australia.
Hardik had been sidelined with a back injury sustained during the Asia Cup in September, and he was originally selected in the India A squad for their three-match one-day series against New Zealand A. However, he said it made sense to focus his energies on the longest format first, with the ODIs against Australia only scheduled after the Test series ends.
"If I am playing a Test match, I should play a four-day game (rather) than one-day," Hardik told Times Now on Thursday. "Because one-day is later on. I am focusing right now that if I can make it to the team, because there is scope of me making a comeback into the Test team, if I am fit to play a Test match. That's why I wanted to take my time and see where exactly I stand in Ranji Trophy.
"Playing a Test match is a different league. The workload goes very high, so I wanted to see if I can manage the workload. I knew I would get enough match preparation before the Australia ODIs. Therefore I focused on playing Ranji Trophy."
India will play their second Test against Australia in Perth from Friday. That still leaves room for Hardik to be added to the squad before the last two matches, the Boxing Day and New Year Tests in Melbourne and Sydney.
"Before I go for any major series, I wanted to see where exactly I stand," Hardik said. "Ranji Trophy is the best domestic tournament. I wanted to check my fitness levels there, and then take a call about how I am feeling and what should be the next step. Right now, I am only focusing on the Ranji Trophy and then obviously, I want to get back to the team as soon as possible, because it's difficult to stay away for so long."
Baroda are currently in fifth place on the combined Groups A and B points table with 13 points, while Mumbai, who have played four matches to Baroda's five, are in 16th place with just five points. The top five teams at the end of the league stage in the two groups combined will qualify for the quarter-finals.