Arriving into IPL 2021, the focus for Mumbai Indians was on Hardik Pandya and his workload management. The blockbuster all-rounder underwent a back surgery in 2019 and despite playing his role as a middle-order big-hitter, Pandya hasn’t bowled actively over the last few months.
He played as a pure batsman in IPL 2020 and bowled very irregularly during the latest series against England, with Captain Kohli confirming at various points that the team was still trying to manage Hardik’s workload.
Now Mumbai Indians coach Mahela Jayawardene has confirmed that Pandya had picked up a shoulder niggle during the final ODI against England, which is the reason behind him not bowling in the last three IPL matches.
“We were looking forward for him to be bowling this season. He was coming back from an injury already, but after those matches against England, the last ODI, I believe he picked up a niggle, so that is something that we are nursing at the moment,” Jayawardene said during a virtual press-conference.
The former batting great, however, believes that Hardik Pandya will return to bowling soon enough.
“We don’t want to risk it, because it is important that we make sure that he (Hardik) is in a position to comfortably come in and bowl. So hopefully in the next few weeks, with a bit of work and all that, we might see him bowling, “It is not that we are deliberately trying to not bowl him, we would love to have him bowling, but as soon as the niggle is off and he is comfortable, we should be able to use that asset as well,” he said.
Despite his inactivity with the ball, Hardik Pandya was in the thick of things against Sunrisers Hyderabad. During the opposition run-chase, he produced two extraordinary moments of brilliance in the field and effected two important run-outs, that of David Warner and Abdul Samad.
“We have always used Hardik on the boundary line because of his speed and he has a good throwing arm and his catching ability, “Last few games, because he has a niggle in the shoulder, we kept (him) in 30 yards and he has proved the value of that by picking up a few runs-outs, because he is agile,” Mahela Jayawardene concluded.