Pandya, who has been on the sidelines since sustaining a back injury during the Asia Cup 2018 in September will turn out for Baroda during their Ranji Trophy 2018-19 fixture against Mumbai starting Friday (December 14).
"Before I go for any major series, I wanted to see where exactly I stand," Pandya said in an interview with Times Now. "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."
The 25-year-old was originally slated to travel with the India A side for three one-dayers against New Zealand A but instead stayed back in order to prove his fitness in India's domestic premier tournament.
The all-rounder has a chance of making it to the squad for the final two Tests in Australia, which will be held in Melbourne and Sydney, and said that was a major reason why he chose to stay back in India and prove his worth in Ranji Trophy rather than travelling to New Zealand for the 50-over games.
"If I am playing a Test match, I should play a four-day game (rather) than one-day, because one-day is later on," Pandya said. "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."
Pandya's inclusion will further boost Baroda's chances, who are currently placed fifth on the combined Groups A and B points table with 13 points.
First Published: December 13, 2018, 8:18 PM IST