In a major blow to Team India, Mumbai Indians head coach Mahela Jayawardene has declared that star all-rounder Hardik Pandya is unlikely to bowl during the ongoing IPL 2021 Phase 2. Hardik hadn’t bowled a single over since the tournament resumed earlier this month, and it could be a crucial blow for Virat Kohli and Co ahead of the T20 World Cup.
With the Mumbai Indians star being crucial to the team balance, his absence in bowling attack would be detrimental. Furthermore, Hardik Pandya has already missed two games due to injury, and concerns surrounding his fitness remain as a busy season beckons for Indian cricket.
“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,” Mumbai Indians coach Mahela Jayawardene confirmed. He added that Hardik Pandya is still some way off 100% fitness and it is unlikely that he would bowl in the ongoing IPL 2021 Phase 2.
— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) October 1, 2021
The Mumbai Indians head coach added, “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.”
- Hardik Pandya has been struggling with a host of injuries and underwent back surgery with the T20 World Cup in sight.
- When fit and firing, Hardik Pandya slots in at No.6 in the line-up, taking up the finisher’s role alongside fellow all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja.
- Pandya’s ability to bowl means that Kohli has a reliable option to turn to should any of his five main bowlers have an off day.
- While Pandya has the ability to play as a pure batsman and turn the game on its head, his current form is questionable and hurts India’s team combination for the T20 World Cup.
- With the selectors only opting for three pacers in the squad, Hardik Pandya’s medium pace was a vital option, leaving the bowling lopsided should he be unable to bowl.
- The likes of Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer and Sanju Samson all missed out on the squad, who could have been potential options as pure batsmen, had Hardik not been fit to bowl.
- Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, who could chip in handily with the bat, could also have been considered.
Despite his dwindling returns, Hardik Pandya was deemed “untouchable” when available for the Indian side. The 27-year-old is from a rare breed of pace bowling all-rounders in the country and provides much-needed balance and firepower to Team India and their plans for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
However, should Pandya be unable to contribute with the ball, questions will further be raised on his selection, after an average IPL and Sri Lanka tour. However, it remains to be seen how the selectors and the team management respond to Hardik Pandya’s fitness update.