Mumbai Indians’ bowling coach Shane Bond stated that it’s natural for seamers to drop pace after coming back from a surgery, but claimed that it was pleasing to see Hardik Pandya still bowl with his old aggression. Bond revealed that MI had consciously not used Pandya’s bowling in IPL 2020.
The term ‘feels like a new signing’ is thrown about in Football when a world class player returns to the side post injury, and that has pretty much been the case for team India, who have seen Hardik Pandya the all-rounder mark his return to cricket. After playing as a specialist batsman in the Australia tour, Pandya started to bowl again in the England T20Is and impressed instantly. Across five games, the Baroda all-rounder bowled 17 overs and maintained a remarkable economy rate of 6.94. He was then summoned to bowl again in the final ODI versus England where, again, he turned out to be exceptionally economical, conceding just 48 runs off his 9 overs in a game which saw four Indian bowlers go at over 6.80 runs an over.
Pandya successfully marking his return to the bowling crease will mean that he will all but feature as a full-fledged all-rounder in IPL 2021 for Mumbai Indians, and this has got the franchise’s bowling coach Shane Bond excited. Bond expressed that, while he knows Pandya is not bowling as quick as he once used to, he is pleased with the aggression shown by the 27-year-old.
"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," Bond told TOI.
Pandya was, unsurprisingly, a MVP for Mumbai Indians in their title-winning campaign last season, but the right-hander played as a specialist batsman for the side, with the franchise unwilling to risk his body months after a back surgery. Bond revealed that MI took a conscious decision to not let Pandya bowl, in order to manage his workload and ensure that he is fully fit while representing the national side.
"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.”
Pandya’s USP when he debuted for India was that he was a genuine pace-bowling all-rounder, but the 27-year-old’s game has evolved to the extent that where he would now walk into the side as a pure batsman. In his last six ODIs, since returning from injury, the hard-hitting right-hander has notched up 310 runs at an average of 62.00 and SR of 123.01, figures that would make any batsman in the world jealous. Bond believes that Pandya taking his batting to the next level has helped him be more comfortable with his bowling, for there’s less pressure to deliver with the ball.
"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."