Hardik Pandya has shifted his complete focus on his fitness with the intention to get back to bowling keeping in mind the upcoming T20 World Cup slated later this year in October. Not only this, the all-rounder has decided to take 3-4 weeks rest ahead of the Sri Lanka limited-overs tour.
Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya is vying to keep himself fit so that he can bowl for India in the rescheduled ICC World T20 in the October-November window. Pandya didn’t bowl a single over in his seven games for his franchise side Mumbai Indians in the suspended IPL 2021.
In 2019, the Surat born all-rounder had undergone surgery for a stress fracture he endured since the 2018 England tour. Since then, the all-rounder did make his comeback with the ball, in the ODI series against Australia and later, the home T20I series against England. However, Pandya is hungry to play for India and wants to ensure he bowls in all the fixtures of the ICC World T20.
"I started bowling in the IPL and my focus is on the World Cup. I want to make sure that I will be able to bowl in all the games at the [T20] World Cup. I am just trying to be smart and make sure that I don't miss that. On the bowling front, what matters is how fit I am,” Pandya told TOI.
“Even after my surgery, I didn't drop my pace. I was not able to drop my control. My bowling is related to my fitness. The fitter I get, the better it comes out. As a fast-bowling allrounder, I tend to get injuries. It is bound to happen and I am okay with it,” Pandya added.
While Pandya was picked initially for his all-round abilities, he was later used in the Australia series, as a pure batsman, a role that he found instant success. Even in the 2021 IPL, the all-rounder was purely utilised as a batsman by the franchise. Pandya credited the five-time champions, thanking them for the utmost support.
"For India, I have realised that my bowling brings a lot of difference because the balance changes. In IPL, I am lucky to have a franchise where there is so much love that I was able to pick my batting there and make sure that for India, I am able to be at my best. I have to make sure I am fit to be able to bowl and if I bowl, that brings balance to the side.” " Pandya said.
Pandya has been included in the Shikhar Dhawan-led 20-member squad for the limited-overs tour against Sri Lanka starting on July 13. Pandya said he had planned to take some rest for four weeks ahead of the tour and is focused to prepare himself for the same.
"Whenever I play, I don't want to play at 50%. [When] I play, I will play at 100%," he said.
"When I heard that we are going to Sri Lanka, I was planning to take rest for 3-4 weeks and just not do anything. I was on the road for seven to eight months and for those months, I was preparing myself for one-and-a-half years. Just before the lockdown, I made a comeback in the DY Patil (T20s in February) and then Covid hit. Then I had to remain fit because I wasn't at my best at that time.”