Former New Zealand speedster and current bowling coach of Mumbai Indians, Shane Bond, feels that Hardik Pandya has lost some pace in his bowling, after his back injury, but has kept up well with his aggressive approach as the all-rounder returned to being a fifth bowler for India in T20Is.
After his back surgery, Pandya didn’t bowl a single ball in the IPL 2020; he barely bowled in Australia as well. But, in the recent T20I series against England, the Baroda all-rounder bowled his quota of 4 overs, and also some overs in the 3rd ODI when the team needed his pace bowling.
Shane Bond, who himself dealt with a spate of injuries in his career, is impressed by the venom in Hardik’s bowling, despite a drop in pace.
“It’s natural that you will lose a bit of top-end consistent pace after a back injury, but what is important is that he hasn’t lost his aggressive approach. He can use the bouncer too, has the skills to swing the ball and can still work up a good pace,” Shane Bond told Times of India.
“When you have a surgery, you are likely to get aches and pains in other parts of the body and that’s what happened to Hardik last year during IPL. We did not want him to pick up another injury because he is too valuable as a batsman. Our aim was to get him back in the process of returning as an all-rounder for India and he is coming to this IPL having done so against England,” he added.
He is a brilliant fourth-pacer option batting at No. 7 in Tests: Shane Bond
The 45-year-old former Kiwi pacer also reckons that Hardik can now make a return to India’s Test side as well having improved significantly on his batting; he last played in the 5-day format for India in 2018 on the tour to England. Shane Bond opines that Hardik can be used in the way England utilizes Ben Stokes in Test cricket by bowling short but impactful bursts which will give other seamers in the attack some rest.
“When he was picked for India, he was seen as a genuine all-rounder. He can still do both equally well, but it’s his batting that has taken the pressure off his bowling. He knows he is one of the best white-ball batsmen in the world and that has made him more comfortable with his bowling. There was a point when I felt he was diving into the crease a little bit too much. He was also mindful of that and got the alignment a little straight and it worked.
“I understand that he is a brilliant fourth-pacer option batting at No. 7 in Tests, but I would think he is better off bowling 10 overs a day even when he is playing red-ball cricket, instead of 15-16. Ben Stokes, too, is doing the same,” Bond felt.