• Hardik Pandya scored 288 runs against Australia in the limited-overs leg
  • He will not play the four-match Test series
  • The first Test is set to begin on Dec. 17 at the Adelaide Oval

Virat Kohli has said all-rounder Hardik Pandya will have to resume bowling to make a comeback in Tests.

Pandya has gone all season without bowling and has played as a specialist batsman, including the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 where he helped Mumbai Indians (MI) win a record fifth title. MI coaches Mahela Jayawardene and Zaheer Khan chose to not rush with Pandya's bowling, who is still recovering following crucial back surgery that he underwent last year.

India recently played six limited-overs matches during their ongoing tour of Australia – three each of One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is). Pandya, who played all the games, bowled only in one match (2nd ODI) and picked the wicket of Steve Smith, while he gave away only 24 runs in his quota of four overs.

In a press conference after the third T20I Wednesday, Kohli was quizzed if the management is planning to retain Pandya for the Test series, considering his recent performances as a batsman that earned him the Player of the Series award in the limited-overs series.

"He's been outstanding. He couldn't bowl and we knew he's not going to bowl. But what we saw of him in the IPL, and the headspace that he's in, you know - you can just see in his game - that he's wanting to make the team win. But Test cricket is a very different challenge altogether and we need him to bowl. We've spoken to him about it. We need him to bowl. That's when he becomes that one guy who brings a lot of balance for us," Kohli said, ESPN Cricinfo reported.

The 27-year-old, who has represented India in 11 Tests since his debut in 2017 in the five-day format, last played a Test in 2018 during India's tour of England.

"If you've seen our cricket overseas as well, in South Africa and England, we were able to compete for longer periods through Test matches because of the fact that he brought a lot of balance in terms of his bowling. We've communicated that to him," Kohli added.

Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya, center, celebrates taking a wicket in an India A match against South Africa A last September. Getty Images

India and Australia are set to lock horns in a four-match Test series, starting from Dec. 17 at the Adelaide Oval. The first Test is the day-night fixture, which will also be Kohli and Co.'s maiden pink ball game away from home. The remaining three Tests will be played in Melbourne (Dec. 26-30), Sydney (Jan. 7-11) and Brisbane (Jan. 15-19).