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T20 World Cup: Hardik Pandya fit for New Zealand match, bowls in nets for the first time in months


Before the New Zealand match, Hardik Pandya bowled in the nets for the first time in months.© Instagram

Hardik Pandya Wednesday bowled in the nets for the first time in months, raising the possibility that he will return to the sidelines for the crucial T20 World Cup 2021 match against New Zealand as a versatile player and gives India a much-needed sixth bowling option. India find themselves in a must-win situation after the 10-wicket they received from Pakistan. Hardik’s inability to bowl disturbed the balance of the team. The versatile player, who last put his arms in the Sri Lanka series in July, did not bowl a single over in the UAE leg of the IPL for Mumbai Indians. Hardik also injured his shoulder while batting against Pakistan and did not take the field after India’s innings as he had to go for scans.

Hardik went through fitness exercises on Wednesday, which included short sprints, under the watchful eyes of strength and conditioning coach Sohum Desai and physio Nitin Patel.

He then bowled almost 20 minutes to Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur in one of the nets. India’s head coach Ravi Shastri and mentor Mahendra Singh Dhoni have been keeping a close eye on Hardik’s progress.

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After his short bowling period, Hardik took throws from batting coach Vikram Rathour. Hardik played purely as a batsman against Pakistan but did not live up to expectations and scored just 11 of eight balls. Hardik’s inclusion in the T20 World Cup group has raised some eyebrows due to his fitness problems, which forced India to make a change in their 15-man squad with reserve player Shardul Thakur swapping places with Axar Patel.

Prior to the Pakistan match, captain Virat Kohli said he expected Hardik to bowl at least two overs at some point during the tournament.

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