India cricket team chief coach Ravi Shastri has said that Hardik Pandya is a “confidence player” and once he gets into the groove, he can string 4-5 match-winning scores, be it for his IPL franchise Mumbai Indians or Team India.
Though Pandya is a part of India’s ICC T20 World Cup squad, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been cautious about increasing his workload ever since he returned from a back surgery last year. He has hardly been given the ball even though chief selector Chetan Sharma had asserted at the time of announcing the ICC T20 World Cup squad that the all-rounder was perfectly fit to bowl in the shortest format.
The all-rounder though seems to be gradually getting back into the groove with his unbeaten 30-ball 40 being crucial in Mumbai Indians defeating Punjab Kings by six wickets on September 28 to break a losing streak.
“He (Hardik) is very much a confidence player and sometimes when you’re not a 100 per cent, it can play on your mind so it was important from Mumbai Indians’ point of view that he first go on to the park and then scored the runs,” Shastri told fancode.com on Saturday.
“It was very important (to gradually bring Hardik to a competitive match). I’ve known Hardik for a long timeâ¦ he’s very much a confidence player, once he gets into the groove then he can string 4-5 match winning scores,” added Shastri.
In fact, Mumbai Indians chief coach Mahela Jayawardene too said on Friday that the team will not rush Hardik into bowling in the ongoing IPL 2021 as he could ‘struggle’ if pushed too hard. He also said that the possibility of Pandya bowling in the IPL will be evaluated on a daily basis.
After missing the first two matches in the second leg of the tournament in the UAE, Pandya has featured for Mumbai as a pure batsman. The all-rounder hadn’t bowled in the first leg of the tournament in India as well. Jayawardene mentioned that the franchise is in contact with the Indian team management with respect to Pandya.
“He hasn’t bowled since Sri Lanka for a longer period of time and obviously had another niggle. We managed to get him through that process. I think what we are trying to do is what’s best for Hardik going forward. But we will be taking to the management, the Indian team management, and everyone else and make sure that sooner he feels comfortable, we will get him into his bowling programme and prepare him,” Jayawardene had said during a virtual PC on Friday.