India has played 55 T20Is since June 2022, with Hardik Pandya featuring in 38 of those matches.
In the fast-paced world of cricket, injuries can be a roadblock to a player’s career, and for Hardik Pandya, the setback came in the form of a ‘freak injury’ during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 fixture against Bangladesh. Missing the chance to play in the title clash against Australia was undoubtedly a low point for the premier all-rounder.
As the cricketing world awaited his return, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the National Cricket Academy (NCA) took a prudent approach, recognizing the importance of long-term goals, particularly with the T20 World Cup cycles in 2024 and 2026 on the horizon. Rather than rushing Pandya back into action for bilateral fixtures, the focus shifted to a comprehensive rehabilitation plan.
The 18-week high-performance program, exclusively designed for Pandya, is currently underway as per News18. This meticulous routine, crafted by the NCA, spans various facets of fitness, including cardio, strength training, functional training, and crucially, adequate rest and recovery. The goal is clear: to ensure Hardik Pandya’s endurance levels remain optimal for the challenges ahead.
Hardik Pandya: Not the first one!
The approach taken by the BCCI and NCA is not unprecedented. Players like Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Iyer, and KL Rahul have previously undergone personalized programs during their injury layoffs, highlighting a commitment to addressing long-term objectives. Each routine is tailored to the specific needs of the player, considering factors like playing conditions, skill requirements, and upcoming assignments.
Crucially, sources emphasize that Hardik Pandya current injury is unrelated to his previous back injury, which required surgery in 2019. The 30-year-old has maintained superb fitness since his comeback, leading the Gujarat Titans in the IPL and playing a significant number of games in both 2022 and 2023. In 2023 alone, Hardik Pandya has led the side in T20I series against Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and West Indies, showcasing his resilience.
The decision to abstain from the upcoming T20Is against Afghanistan reflects a strategic choice. Instead of focusing on match-specific skills, the current program prioritizes overall fitness standards, ensuring Pandya’s return is not just swift but sustainable.
India has played 55 T20Is since June 2022, with Hardik Pandya featuring in 38 of those matches. In the ODIs, he has played 23 out of 50 games. These statistics underscore Pandya’s integral role in the team, making his fitness a priority for the cricketing authorities.
As the 18-week journey unfolds, the cricketing fraternity eagerly awaits the return of Hardik Pandya, not just as a skilled all-rounder but as a testament to the importance of holistic and forward-thinking approaches in cricket management. The BCCI’s commitment to long-term goals and player welfare sets a positive precedent for the future of Indian cricket.