In what could come as a huge relief for the Virat Kohli-led Team India, all-rounder Hardik Pandya has finally started bowling in the nets in Dubai.
The development meanwhile, also raises the possibility of Hardik bowling atleast couple of overs in India’s crucial T20 World Cup affair against New Zealand on October 31 (Sunday) in Dubai as the Men in Blue is missing the comfort of a sixth bowler.
Earlier during India’s tour of Sri Lanka in July this year, Hardik had bowled 16 overs across three ODIs and one T20I however, he had refrained from bowling even a single over in the UAE leg of the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) season for his side Mumbai Indians.
Later during India’s campaign opener against arch-rivals Pakistan on October 24, Hardik had also hurt his shoulder while batting and did not take the field following which Ishan Kishan fielded for the all-rounder.
Hardike was then immediately rushed for precautionary scans.
Later, the all-rounder was reportedly declared fit and was likley available for selection against New Zealand.
On Wednesday, Hardik went through fitness drills and was overseen by strength and conditioning coach Sohum Desai and physio Nitin Patel.
As per reports, Hardik also bowled nearly for 20 minutes to Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur in the nets and was monitored by head coach Ravi Shastri and mentor MS Dhoni. Later, the all-rounder took throwdowns from batting coach Vikram Rathour in the nets.
Earlier before the contest against Pakistan, Hardik had said that he would likely bowl in the games closer to the knockout stage.
“The back is fine, it was jittery, but I won’t be bowling for now. I want to be able to bowl eventually, closer to the knockouts. The professionals and I both have to take the call about when I can have a bowl,” Hardik had said ahead of the game against Pakistan.
With the Kohli-led Team India now aiming to beat New Zealand to keep their knockout hopes alive following the crushing 10-wicket defeat against Pakistan, it is most likley that the team management would opt for some change in the Playing XI on Sunday.
As per reports, either Shardul Thakur or Ishan Kishan might get a chance in place of Hardik.
It is most likley that Shardul would be preferred over Ishan as he along with bowling, he can also be handy with the bat down the order.
After New Zealand, India will face Afghanistan on November 3 in Abu Dhabi. The Men in Blue will then face Scotland and Namibia on November 5 and 8 in Dubai.
The two semifinals of the showpiece event will be held on November 10 and November 11 with the final to be played on November 14 in Dubai.
India is currently placed fifth in the six-team Group 2 standings of the Super 12 stage after their humiliating defeat against the Babar Azam-led side.
Pakistan, which has won both their games so far, is seated at the top with four points in their kitty and are followed by Afghanistan, Namibia and New Zealand respectively.
Scotland, which has lost both their games, is at the bottom.