Premier all-rounder Hardik Pandya is still not comfortable enough to bowl, his Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma said on Monday, days before the Indian team sets off on the marquee tour of Australia. On the eve of their IPL final against Delhi Capitals, Rohit said Hardik, who has not bowled through the 13th edition of the lucrative event, made it clear he is still not up to the mark when it comes to fitness.
"He is not comfortable at the moment to bowl you know, and we have left all the decision on him," Rohit said.
The Indian limited-overs vice captain, who is eyeing an unprecedented fifth IPL silverware, said his swashbuckling all-rounder has "got some niggle going".
"... If he feels comfortable he will be happy to bowl, but at the moment, he is not feeling comfortable, he has got some niggle going.
"So I mean it would have been great to have him bowl but, throughout the season, we have given him that cushion of being in that comfort zone and making sure that he takes care of his body and he has done that really well."
Amid the MI domination over the past few weeks, the team management kept assessing the progress made by Hardik, who more than made up with his incredible ability to hit the ball far and high. Needless to say, Rohit acknowledged that. "We have had his assessment every three four games and we have spoken to him about what he wants to do.
"So we don't want to put that pressure on individuals where we are expecting something from him and he is not able to do it and the team morale goes down, we don't want that situation.
"You know Hardik to us is very important as a player and his batting has been really really key for us, making it to the final. So as long as he bats I am happy."
He is part of the the teams named for the limited overs series in Australia beginning in the last week of November. Hardik underwent a back surgery in October last year in the UK. His lower back had been troubling him since the Test series in England in 2018. The surgery kept him out of action for almost a year, with the all-rounder last playing a T20 International against South Africa at home in September 2019.
He missed the Tests against the same opposition after that, the home series against Bangladesh and West Indies, a T20I series against Sri Lanka and ODIs against Australia at home, and the entire tour of New Zealand earlier this year.