MI vs RCB IPL 2021: Hardik Pandya returns to playing XI for Mumbai Indians

What comes as a piece of good news, Hardik Pandya has returned to Mumbai Indians playing XI against Royal Challenging Bangalore. MI skipper Rohit Sharma said that Pandya was desperate to play against RCB and change fortunes for MI with his all-around talent. The flamboyant all-rounder had earlier missed the match against Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad due to a ‘niggle’.

Speaking at the toss, Rohit Sharma said: “We are gonna bowl first. We have tried everything in the two games we played and I thought a score in front of us to have a crack would be ideal. Important to focus on the game in hand and keep ticking those small boxes. He (Hardik) is very passionate about the game and passionate about his comeback, from a team’s perspective it’s a great boost for us. Just one change. Hardik is back and Saurabh Tiwary is out.”

Mumbai Indians (Playing XI): Rohit Sharma(c), Quinton de Kock(w), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Adam Milne, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult

With T20 World Cup on the head, BCCI had requested franchises, ‘not to rush & risk any of the Indian squad players’.

While Hardik Pandya will remain the focal point, Mumbai Indians face RCB in a do-or-die match and are unlikely to tinker with their playing XI. He came in place of Saurabh Tiwary.

How crucial is Hardik Pandya for Mumbai Indians?

Showing very indifferent form, Mumbai Indians have lost 5 of their 9 matches this year and any more slip-ups can prove costly. Defending champions need three victories in their 5 games to qualify for playoffs and Hardik Pandya will be crucial.

Is Hardik Pandya fit?

Pandya has been under the scanner for his persistent injury problems and poor form. He didn’t bowl in IPL 2021 Phase 1 and scored only 52 runs in 7 matches at an average of 8.66. Even on India tour of Sri Lanka Pandya was below-par.

Had it been any other player, he would have been dropped and would have struggled to get back to XI. But he is Hardik Pandya, a crucial cog in MI and have won them matches numerous times.

Is Hardik Pandya available against RCB?

  • The mystery around Hardik Pandya’s injury keeps everyone on the edge. At this moment, it is unknown if he has a recurrence of the back injury. MI have maintained their silence over it.
  • Hardik Pandya has returned against RCB but could be rested for future matches.
  • His poor form is a concern for Mumbai Indians.
  • Furthermore, it remains to be seen if he bowls. If he doesn’t, MI won’t want another batsman in the squad as it will impact the balance in the team.
  • As per information available with InsideSport, a final decision on his inclusion will be taken before the match.

Hardik Pandya is one of the vital cogs in the wheel of Rohit Sharma’s team. His form in IPL in UAE will determine whether Mumbai Indians can defend their title or will they lose out? Pandya’s flop show in Phase 1 was the big reason that Mi currently is lying at No. 4. He did not score runs, he did not bowl and a repeat of his flop show can cost Mumbai Indians their IPL title.

How crucial is Pandya’s batting in middle overs can be gauged from the fact that as he flopped during the 1st 7 matches, MI struggled big time.

  • Hardik Pandya managed just 52 runs in 7 matches with the highest score of 16 runs in IPL Phase-1 at an average of 8 & a strike rate of just 118.
  • His fitness concerns did not let him bowl even once in Phase 1 of the league.
  • In comparison in IPL 2020 – Pandya contributed 281 runs in 14 matches scored at a strike rate of 179 – this led to Mumbai Indians winning the IPL title for a record 5th time.

Is Hardik Pandya really fit? 

He recently recovered from his injured lower back but he is yet to prove his fitness on the field. In his 1st bowling attempt since his injury, Pandya recently failed to perform during the recently-concluded India tour of Sri Lanka. He bowled, but managed just 3 wickets and looked unimpressive. With bat also he just scored 29 runs in 3 ODIs and 1 t20I.

Hardik is such a huge talent and a big match player that despite all the concerns Indian selectors have decided to show faith in him by picking him for the T20 World Cup Squad. However, any slip up will cost Mumbai Indians their IPL title & Hardik Pandya his place in the Indian team for T20 World Cup.