India’s ace all-rounder Hardik Pandya on Friday said that he was focussing and preparing himself to play purely as a batsman till he gets match-ready to bowl. The younger of the two Pandya brothers had a back injury in 2019 and as he gradually returns to competitive cricket, he is avoiding bowling. He did not bowl at all for the Mumbai Indians in the recently-concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) and played as a pure batsman in the first ODI against Australia on Friday.
Asked if playing purely as a batsman makes any difference, Hardik said, “(It does) not make much difference. I believe in having both skills. I like to back myself and have that confidence where whatever role is given to me I try to fulfill that to the best of my ability.”
Pandya on Friday played a brilliant knock — 90 off 76 balls — and tried to take the game deep after India lost early wickets. He came into bat after they were reduced to 101/4 in the 14th over.
Unlike his role at Mumbai Indians in IPL’s T20 games, in which he is asked to do power-hitting right from the word go, Pandya on Friday played himself in before unleashing a flurry of boundaries against Glenn Maxwell. However, a total of 374 proved too much for him and Shikhar Dhawan, who was India’s other top-scorer. Pandya said that by playing as a pure batsman he has to start thinking as a batsman only.
“I start thinking as a batter. I try to take the game deep. I try to bat in a way, where I can score more runs than what I am used to. It does not add too much pressure or does not give me any more freedom. It is just that I am enjoying being on the ground as a batter or cricketer,” said Pandya on being asked if playing only as a batter allows him more freedom than playing as an all-rounder.
Pandya did not give any specific time about when he would get match-ready to bowl. But he said he is looking at long-term goals like the World Cups and does not want to rush in. There are three successive World Cups that India plays the T20 World Cups in India and Australia next year and the 50-over World Cup in 2023 in India.
“It is a process. I am looking at a long-term goal time when I want to be 100 percent of my bowling capacity for the most important games — the World Cups are coming, the most crucial series. I am looking at a long-term plan, not a short-term plan where I’ll try to exhaust myself and maybe have something else (injury) which is not there,” he said.
“So it is going to be a process that I am following. I can’t exactly tell you exactly when I am going to bowl. But the process is going on. In the nets I am bowling, am not game-ready. I am bowling and making sure that the skill is of international level,” he added.