After impressing everyone with a couple of cracking centuries in the DY Patil Trophy T20 tournament over the last week or so, Hardik Pandya looks all set for his international return in the 3-match ODI series against South Africa. Though there’s no denying that the all-rounder’s comeback has been delayed by a month or so, his all-round performance in the recent domestic T20 matches does confirm that the 26-year-old is back to full fitness.
Playing for Reliance 1, Hardik scored a 55-ball 158, his second century of the campaign with the first coming a couple of games ago in just 37 deliveries. The all-rounder had also taken 5 wickets in the same match that saw him bag his first ton of the tournament.
“He is fit and is set to return to the national team. Having first undergone rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy and now his performance in the T20 tournament has pretty much made it clear that he is fit to return to the fold,” a source told news agency IANS.
Hardik was initially planned to return in the ODI series against Australia but he failed to prove his fitness, especially when it comes to bowling. In a bid to not let his back injury aggravate due to a rushed return, the team management advised him to continue rehab at the National Cricket Academy (NCA).
Talks of him being drafted in the India A team for the New Zeland tour were also made but the management decided to keep him out of action. Having seen him perform at absolute best in the DY Patil Trophy, however, the management and selectors seem ready to recall him in the national setup.
“The team management spoke to him when he trained with Virat Kohli and boys on the eve of the opening ODI against Australia at the Wankhede Stadium and asked him to complete his rehab at the NCA,” a source said.
While participating in the DY Patil Trophy, Pandya spoke about his fitness level, admitting that the tournament offered him a good platform to test his body.
The Gujarat-born cricketer said: “For me, it is a good platform to see where I am currently and test my body. I am really happy with the way things have gone.”
About his lightning-quick centuries in the tournament, Pandya said that he wasn’t trying anything special but just went after the deliveries which were in his area.
“If it’s there in my arc, I just back myself and go for it. Most of the time, it comes out pretty well. There is no plan that I am going to go out there and smash it,” he said.
(With inputs from timesnownews)