It has been 873 days since Hardik Pandya last bowled for Mumbai Indians. The wait is likely to continue for 1 more year. MI’s head coach Mahela Jayawardene declared that ‘Hardik will not bowl in IPL 2021′. The statement has not gone down well with the BCCI and the Indian team selectors. The BCCI officials spoke to after the statement by Jayawrdene has termed ‘it unfortunate’. Hardik not being fully fit has made the BCCI worried now ahead of the T20 World Cup.
“It’s not ideal. We would have liked for him to bowl in competitive matches. It’s unfortunate as he is a key player in the T20 World Cup. He is undergoing some fitness issues. But hopefully, he will be okay by the Pakistan match. It’s good that he is bowling in the nets. We will be monitoring the situation regarding him,” a senior BCCI official told us on Friday.
Jayawardene said that if Hardik is pushed to bowling, he might struggle as a batsman.
— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) October 1, 2021
“At the moment if we push too hard (to bowl), he (Hardik) might be an issue where he might even struggle and might not be an asset as a batsman. We’re trying to do what’s best for Hardik, going forward. Whether he can bowl or not in the IPL is something we will have to look at,” Jayawardene said.
Why Hardik Pandya’s lack of bowling worrying BCCI & selectors?
- Lack of bowling raises questions about his fitness ahead of the mega event.
- While he missed two matches due to a niggle, Mumbai Indians never revealed the kind and extent of the injury.
- Hardik has bowled only 42 overs the entire 2021 and that is a problem for going to a mega tournament where the team relies on his wicket-taking deliveries.
- In IPL, he hasn’t bowled for 873 days and that takes away the all-rounder tag.
- Selecting as a batsman in India’s Playing XI isn’t something selectors are looking at as a pure batsman at No 7 is not helpful for Team India.
- His performance with the bat too isn’t good enough. In 2021, he has scored at an average of 24.00 in T20Is, 23.80 in ODIs, and in IPL that drops down to 13.57.
- But his 30-ball 40 against PBKS that led Mumbai Indians to win has raised hopes. With just four matches left in IPL 2021, all eyes are on him whether he can hit the worries out of the park.
While Hardik Pandya could be okay to bowl 2-3 overs in the T20 World Cup matches, considering he has bowled just 42 overs the whole of 2021, it creates a big issue for the selectors.
Take into account that he hasn’t batted long enough, it hasn’t impressed selectors one bit ahead of an important ICC event that India are chasing for 14 years.
However, that’s not the sole problem for Team India and skipper Virat Kohli.
Hardik Pandya’s batting record in 2021 is equally poor and that raises the question of whether selectors have made a mistake in selecting him for the T20 World Cup. In T20Is, he has scored at an average of 24.00 and 23.80 in ODIs, in IPL that drops down to 13.57. Furthermore, the mysterious injury that Hardik has faced ever since his back surgery has also kept the fans guessing over his injury status. In Sri Lanka, he didn’t look fit enough and nor has he looked in the IPL Phase 2.
Despite the lack of justifying reasons behind selecting him, a BCCI source said there are no plans to drop him in favour of Deepak Chahar or Shardul Thakur. They believe the two CSK bowlers are not ready to take on an all-rounder role, especially in a tournament like T20 World Cup.
“There is no question of replacing Hardik at this stage. Shardul or Deepak are not ready to take on the role. We have to develop backup in future. But now, it’s not the time,” the source told us, even though Hardik isn’t an all-rounder anymore. He is playing more as a batsman with some bowling ability.