India allrounder Hardik Pandya has been officially ruled out of the two-Test series against New Zealand starting February 21. India’s Test squad is yet to be announced but the BCCI on Saturday confirmed that the allrounder is yet to recover fully from the back injury that sidelined him in September last year.

“Team India all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been ruled out of the upcoming Test series against New Zealand. He travelled to London and was accompanied by NCA Head Physio Ashish Kaushik for a review by spinal surgeon Dr James Allibone,” the statement said.

“Hardik will be under rehab at the National Cricket Academy until he regains full match fitness.”

Pandya first suffered an injury to his lower back during the 2018 Asia Cup, which also forced him out of the home ODIs against Australia early last year. He last played in September, after which the allrounder was forced to miss series against Bangladesh, West Indies, Australia and now Zealand. Pandya was in line to travel with the India A team for practice matches against New Zealand A, but was pulled out following his failure to recover.

Considering the IPL and India’s assignments leading up to the T20 World Cup, Pandya, in December had said that it was imperative for him to undergo surgery and be fit as soon as possible. The 26-year-old underwent surgery in London last year to treat the problem that’s troubling him for nearly five years.

“We decided to do the surgery now because we saw the future and thought this is the right time. We thought this was the right time because even if I take four months, I will be coming back before the New Zealand series, mid-way actually,” Hardik told IANS in December.

“That was the plan that I play some international games, the IPL and then the World T20. The biggest concern was the World T20 which touch wood is now in place. I could have done the surgery a month later, but it would not have helped me in any way,” he said. “I was feeling the difference in my back and wasn’t able to take it.”

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Pandya will be heading to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) to start his rehabilitation programme under the watchful eyes of NCA head Rahul Dravid and his team of trainers.

Pandya was asked by the Indian team management to complete his rehab, and source close to the team management said that the all-rounder has been instructed to complete his rehab at the NCA and it will be 15-20 day programme approximately.