Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya is slowly making his return to international cricket. He has not played an international match since September 2019. Pandya picked up a back injury which forced him to undergo a surgery, thereby he had to spend a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
The 26-year-old will make a much-awaited return to international cricket, in the three-match ODI series versus South Africa at home.
Pandya recently grabbed headlines for slamming a 55-ball 158 run knock including a mammoth 20 sixes, in the DY Patil T20 Cup, thereby creating a unique hype for his return to Team India.
Apart from this, the first ODI against South Africa will hold further importance — to him because the right-handed batsman is just 43 runs shy of joining an elite list of cricketers.
If he manages a score of 43 or plus, Pandya will become only the 13th Indian player — to achieve the double of 1000 runs and 50 wickets in the ODI cricket.
Hardik Pandya opens up about his recovery from back surgery:
Pandya last played an international match against the Proteas in Bengaluru last year. After his dazzling display in the DY Patil Cup, expectations will be high although it remains to be seen if Virat Kohli picks the Surat-born player in the playing XI.
In a recent interview with Yuzvendra Chahal, which the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) aired on its website, Pandya discussed how he felt while recuperating from the much-maligned back injury.
“I missed this atmosphere the most in these last six months, playing for the country and the feeling you get wearing the team’s colours,” he said.
“That had become a mental challenge and there were a lot of setbacks. I was trying to get back to full fitness quickly but that did not work out and a lot of mental pressure came at the time. But touchwood, everything went fine, the rehabilitation went well and a lot of people helped me,” he added.
Pandya also spoke about his sensational knocks in the DY Patil Cup. He added, “It was important. I had not played anything for six and a half months. I wanted to make an international comeback so it was very important for my confidence. No matter how much you practice, the match situation is always different.”
The first ODI between India and South Africa will be played on Thursday, 12th March, at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala.