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Hardik Pandya tests his bowling at India nets

The all-rounder, who is still working on his bowling fitness, was at the nets with the rest of the India team that is preparing for the next T20 World Cup game against New Zealand.
Hardik Pandya and Indian team at the nets.(BCCI/Twitter)
Published on Oct 27, 2021 10:24 PM IST
ByRasesh Mandani

In an optional net session on Wednesday, India’s first after the loss to Pakistan in the opening T20 World Cup, Hardik Pandya rolled his arm over for 10 minutes. The all-rounder wasn’t bowling at full tilt though, only running off a few paces.

Before bowling at the nets, Pandya went through a round of fitness drills for 10 minutes watched by the team physio and trainer. Captain Virat Kohli, head coach Ravi Shastri and team mentor MS Dhoni all kept a close eye on how his body was coping.

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Pandya’s inability to bowl following his persistent back problems has left India without a sixth bowling option in the World Cup. His unavailability as a bowler was sorely felt in their 10-wicket loss in the opening game on Sunday.

There has been a fair amount of confusion about the status of Pandya’s back injury. The national selectors had originally picked him as an all-rounder who would deliver his full quota of overs. It was later learnt during IPL that Pandya was unable to bowl and that pushing him could lead to injury. Subsequently, the selectors were forced to make a change in the squad and bring in Shardul Thakur, a seam bowler and handy lower order bat, as cover by dropping left-arm-spinner Axar Patel from the original squad.

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“I honestly feel that Hardik Pandya presently with his physical condition is getting better in terms of being prepared to bowl at least two overs for us at a certain stage in this tournament,” Kohli had said before the Pakistan match.

Pandya’s bowling on Wednesday may just be the first of a few rounds of net sessions before India can decide if he will be fit to bowl in the next match against New Zealand on Sunday. The Group 2 match against Kane Williamson’s side holds significance for India as a slip up could dent their semi-final hopes, in case there are no other upsets.

All the players except Suryakumar Yadav came for the net session, held under lights at the ICC Academy Ground in Dubai.

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