Hardik Pandya wants everyone to know his priority is cricket: Zaheer Khan

Hardik Pandya will be under the spotlight in this Indian Premier League, both on and off the field. Hardik missed the T20 and ODI series at home against Australia to undergo strength and conditioning work on his lower back. Being India’s leading all-round hope for the ICC World Cup, Hardik’s return to action will be closely monitored.

Hardik’s off field conduct amidst the IPL glitz will remain under equal scanner in light of his Koffee with Karan misadventure.

Former India pacer and now Mumbai Indians director of cricket operations, Zaheer Khan hopes the distraction will help Pandya Jr regain focus. “Sometimes the distraction actually helps you get back on track. So, he is pretty much on track. For any cricketer, the best way to go about his business is by going out there on that field and let his numbers talk. He is in that frame of mind. He wants opportunities, he wants to go out there, express himself and let everyone know that his priority is cricket,” he said.

After the controversy, Hardik did make a successful return to action in the limited-overs series in New Zealand. But his dodgy back would be a greater concern for the Indian camp.

Hardik Pandya was stretchered off the field after an ugly fall in his delivery stride during an Asia Cup match against Pakistan in September, last year. He also missed the rest of the Asia Cup as well as India’s home series against West Indies and the Australian tour.

On the fitness and rehab front, Hardik has the right people in the Mumbai Indians support staff – Zaheer Khan and Shane Bond – to benefit from. “I have been having chats with Hardik around that in terms of general approach and the feedback I am getting from him. When I saw him in the Asia Cup, I was actually concerned to see that sight on the field. When I spoke with him, he said it is not something he has faced for the first time. He had a similar kind of issue with the back three-four years ago as well,” Zaheer said.

“It is related to what he feels through the crease when he is getting off (run up) which has an impact which he has been working on. In the shorter run, it is not going to have any consequences because he is pretty aware of where things stand. In the longer run, he knows what are the things needed to get rid of those issues permanently,” he added.


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