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All-round Pandya announces form and fitness with 37-ball ton & 5-er in domestic game

India's Hardik Pandya
©Reuters
 

Playing for Reliance 1 in the DY Patil T20 tournament, Hardik Pandya was at his brutal best as he blasted eight fours and 10 gigantic sixes.

 

Hardik Pandya played with some discomfort through the ODI World Cup. Despite a stiff back, Pandya was one of the top all-round performers of the event with 226 runs from 9 matches at an average of 32.29 and a strike at over 110 while contributing 10 wickets at a brilliant economy of 5.66.

 

After the event, the all-rounder visited the UK for advice and opted for a back surgery in October last year. He was expected to be fit in time for the India tour of New Zealand. To ensure his match fitness, the BCCI drafted him in the India A squad for the tour of New Zealand. However, his rehabilitation took "longer than expected" and he was ruled out at the last moment with Vijay Shankar flying to New Zealand in his place.

 

Since Pandya's injury, India have been experiencing a clear void in their playing XI so much so that the team decided to stick to Shivam Dube despite the all-rounder not delivering on a consistent basis. The main logic behind it was just so that the skeleton of the team remains the same, that is, the team plays the same type of player in his spot - a pace-bowling all-rounder - so that everybody knows their role.

 

Dube, despite scoring only 105 runs from 13 T20I appearances at an average of 17.50 and picking up five wickets from as many games at an average of 43.20 and an economy of 10.04, was kept in the side. The Mumbai player was in a way only keeping the seat warm for Hardik Pandya and will see himself dropped from the squad upon Pandya's return.

 

"We thought this was the right time because even if I take four months I will be coming back before the New Zealand series, mid-way actually," Hardik had said. "That was the plan that I play some international games, the IPL and then the World T20. The biggest concern was the World T20 which touch wood is now in place."

 

But, quite understandably, the BCCI was quite conscious that Pandya was not rushed back. After having played his last international game in September, Pandya returned to competitive cricket in the ongoing DY Patil T20 tournament - which is seen as a platform by IPL players, due to the time of its scheduling, to get their feet going.

 

 

Playing for Reliance 1, Pandya had a decent beginning to the tournament as he scored a 25-ball 38 and returned to pick up three wickets. However, he showed his real impact in the next game where he blasted a 37-ball century, before bagging a fifer.

 

 

 The all-rounder blasted 105 off just 39 balls against CAG in a Group C encounter at the Reliance Corporate Park on Tuesday. En route to his ton, Hardik clubbed eight fours and 10 gigantic sixes. With ball in hand, Pandya picked 5 for 26 to see his team to victory.

 

"If it's there in my arc I just back myself and go for it. Most of the times, it comes out pretty well. There is no plan that I am going to go out there and smash it," Hardik said after his impactful performance. "It's fantastic (platform) for someone like me. I have been away for almost six months. This is my second game after a long time. 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,"

 

The India squad for the three-match ODI series against South Africa is set to be announced shortly and Pandya with his all-around display has ensured that he is back in the fold. The Mumbai Indians player has just to be cautious with his bowling as bowling four overs in a T20 is still alright but completing his entire quota of 10 overs can take a toll on his body.

 

Be that as it may, Pandya is back to fitness and his return will bolster the Indian ODI playing XI, certainly after their 0-3 drubbing against New Zealand.

 

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