IPL 2021: Rohit Sharma hoping Hardik Pandya will be able to start bowling soon
Hardik Pandya didn't bowl a single over in the UAE leg of IPL 2021 raising concerns about his fitness once again
India's senior chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma had said that Hardik Pandya would be bowling in IPL 2021 but Indian vice-captain and MI skipper Rohit Sharma is expecting the all-rounder to start bowling from 'next week' even though he won't like to put a timeline on the subject. Pandya played five games in the UAE leg of IPL without a lot of success save one game against Punjab Kings which he won with his batting and didn't bowl a single over as anticipated when the selection committee chairman had announced publicly about the status of Baroda's man's bowling fitness.
"In terms of his (Hardik) bowling, the physios, trainers are working on his bowling. He hasn't bowled a single ball yet. We wanted to take one match at a time and see where he stands," Rohit said after Mumbai Indians' last IPL game. "He is getting better day by day. In the next week or so, he might be able to bowl, who knows? Only the doctors and physios will be able to give an update on that," the MI skipper added.
Pandya also disappointed with the bat, scoring just 127 runs at an average of 14.11 and a strike rate of 113.39. "As far as his batting is concerned, yes, he will be a little disappointed but he is a quality player. He has come back from tough situations before as well," Rohit was frank in his assessment.
"Personally for him, he will not be happy with his batting but the team has confidence in his ability. I personally have confidence in his ability.
"He is getting better and a player like him is probably just one game away from getting his natural way and we have seen it in the past. If I have to put everything together, I am confident of his ability and there is no doubt he will be a valuable asset," the Indian vice-captain had words of praise for his key player.
Rohit isn't overly worried about the form of the Indian players in the Mumbai Indians squad as T20 World Cup will be a 'different ball game' where one can get back into rhythm even during the practice games. "I personally don't like to count too much into what has happened in the IPL and what is going to happen in T20 World Cup," the India vice-captain said during a post-match virtual press conference after MI's last IPL game here.
"T20 World Cup is a different ball game, franchise cricket is different. So you cannot really look too much into those aspects. Yes the form matters, but it's a different squad there and it's a different squad here. So you cannot really look too much into that." Apart from Rohit, the other five players are Hardik Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah.
"Yes all the six guys, who we have here, would have liked to have a good run, but it didn't happen," Rohit admitted although Ishan Kishan after being promoted to open scored two attacking half-centuries and Suryakumar Yadav was also back among runs in the final game.
"You saw a couple of fine performances today from Surya and Ishan, but again, when you talk about the World Cup, there will be a couple of practice games I believe – guys can get back into their rhythm and see what we can do there." Apart from Bumrah, who claimed 15 wickets in the UAE leg, the rest of the players either struggled or have been inconsistent.
Rohit said the break in the tournament due to COVID-19 affected their momentum and they lacked consistency in the UAE leg. "We had won the trophy here (in the UAE) last year, so the conditions were not alien for us," he said.
"The thing was the momentum we had created with two back-to-back wins in Delhi, we wanted to continue that but unfortunately because of what was happening in the country (COVID-19 outbreak), there was a break.
"When we came here, some of our first XI players had a few injuries and missed a couple of games initially. Despite that, we should have done better, but we just didn't play as a team to start with, and then collectively as a group, we didn't come together. That was the main reason for not qualifying this year," he concluded.