Mumbai Indians (MI) bowling coach Shane Bond says that Hardik Pandya is training well, but the team will not rush him back into action. MI suffered their second loss of the second phase of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 - with the most recent coming at the hands of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) - and Pandya did not feature in either of those matches.
When asked about Pandya's absence, Bond said, "Hardik's training well," Bond said at the post-match virtual press conference following MI's defeat to KKR.
"He's trained today. He's been close to playing. We're obviously balancing the needs of our team and the needs of team India as well. It's the one thing that this franchise does really well is look after its players with an eye not only to win this competition but an eye to the World Cup that's coming up as well. Hopefully, Hardik can be back for the next match and as I said he's trained today and he's going pretty well," he added.
Since Pandya's back surgery in 2020, the BCCI has been extremely careful when it comes to his workload. Since his return, he has rarely bowled and last played competitive cricket in July, when a second-string Indian side toured Sri Lanka.
With his absence in the IPL so far, there have been questions raised if he is indeed fit enough to play in the T20 World Cup. Chief selector Chetan Sharma prior had previously declared that Pandya was 100% fit and expects the all-rounder to chip in with the ball when needed. "No, not at all," Bond said when asked if the BCCI had something to do with Pandya not playing.
"I think the one thing you want to do with your players in your team is looking after them. We're obviously desperate to put him back on the field and any player would be desperate go out there as well. But like anything you have to balance everything," the former Kiwi quick added.
Bond also added that there was no point rushing Pandya back when there could be a chance that he may not feature for the rest of the tournament. "There's also no point in rushing him back to get injured and miss the rest of the tournament when we have a chance to win it. I think we're doing the right thing and hopefully, we'll get him back shortly and he'll have an impact in the back end of the tournament and get us into the play-offs and hopefully win the tournament from there"
With this loss, MI slump to the sixth position in the IPL 2021 table with just eight points from nine matches. Mumbai take on Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in their next game on Sunday (September 26) in Dubai.