Nagraj Gollapudi is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Pandya will fly out to New Zealand "at the earliest", according to a BCCI release, while Rahul will join his India A team-mates for the last three matches of the series, on January 27, 29 and 31. Given that India play their second ODI against New Zealand on Saturday, the third ODI in Mount Maunganui on Monday, January 28, appears to be the earliest possible opportunity for Pandya to return to action.
Rahul and Pandya had been suspended for their controversial comments on a TV show, but became available for selection as soon as the BCCI's Committee of Administrators lifted the ban on the pair, pending the appointment and adjudication of the board's ombudsman.
The CoA banned Pandya and Rahul on January 11 for their controversial comments on a TV chat show. However, the fate of the two players since then had been in limbo because of the split in the two-member CoA over what the next step should be.
CoA chairman Vinod Rai was in favour of placing a two-match suspension and allowing the players to return pending an inquiry by an ad-hoc ombudsman. However, former India woman's captain Diana Edulji, the other half of the CoA, disagreed, saying either the office bearers and the COA carry out the inquiry or it be done by an ombudsman. Two of the three BCCI office bearers had then pointed out that the ombudsman could only be appointed by the BCCI.
It was then decided that the CoA would wait for the Supreme Court to take call on the appointment of the ombudsman, considering the BCCI had failed to fill the position lying vacant since late 2016. At a hearing last week, the court deferred its decision saying it would have a say only after amicus curiae PS Narasimha took charge.
It is understood that Edulji was not keen to change her stance, but Narasimha is learned to have intervened and said the interim suspensions over the players be lifted subject to the ombudsman's adjudication, once appointed.
Accordingly, the BCCI issued a statement, stating the CoA had lifted the "interim suspension" on both Pandya and Rahul with immediate effect. "The above matter and decision has been taken with the concurrence of the amicus curiae, Mr PS Narasimha. In view of the above, the suspension orders dated 11.01.2019 is immediately lifted pending appointment and adjudication of the allegations by the BCCI ombudsman," the board said.