Mumbai Indians’ director of cricket operations, Zaheer Khan, has revealed a piece of promising news on Hardik Pandya’s bowling plans in IPL 2021. Seam-bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya not rolling his arms in the IPL 2021 season opener against Royal Challengers Bangalore raised eyebrows as Mumbai Indians could have defended a modest target of 159 through his bowling. Zaheer Khan highlighted at the 27-year old not bowling was part of the workload management, but expects he would bowl soon.
Hardik Pandya’s bowling ability has been a concern ever since he suffered a lower-back injury a couple of years ago. During the inaugural match of IPL 2021, he returned underarm throws while fielding, owing to a niggle on his shoulder. While defending 159, Mumbai Indians were almost successful in doing it as the Royal Challengers Bangalore won on the final ball by scoring the required single.
Zaheer Khan termed Hardik Pandya as one of their most valuable cricketers and him not bowling on Friday was part of the workload management. Having delivered nine overs in the final ODI against England, they consulted with the physios and decided against Hardik bowling. The Delhi-born former cricketer pointed out a shoulder concern, which was only minor; hence, Zaheer remains confident of Pandya chipping in with his overs.
“Hardik as a whole package is of great value. It was a workload related thing in the previous game. He bowled in the India-England series, in the last ODI he bowled about nine overs, and that’s why in consultation with the physios, we had to take that approach. There was a little bit of a shoulder concern. I don’t think it’s worrisome, you will very soon see him bowl. For the timelines, you’ll have to ask the physio but in terms of Hardik the bowler coming in this tournament, we are very confident that he will be chipping in,” Khan said as quoted by ESPN Cricinfo.
Pollard is our sixth bowling option: Zaheer Khan
Zaheer Khan continued earmarking Kieron Pollard as their sixth bowling option even during Hardik’s availability since he is an experienced campaigner. The 42-year old believes that teams have to adjust and adapt and given teams are not playing on their home ground, he stressed on flexibility.
“Pollard is our sixth bowling option. He’s an experienced campaigner here so he’s definitely going to be our sixth bowling option. And whenever Hardik is available, he’s going to be a bowling option as well. We’re not very concerned in that department. You have to adapt and adjust. This year it’s a different format so we’ll look to have that flexibility around because of not being able to play in the home ground,” he added.