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Hardik Pandya returns: How new Mumbai Indians captain performed days before start of 2024 IPL season

Hardik Pandya returned to competitive cricket in a tournament at the DY Patil Stadium for the first time in nearly four months

Hardik Pandya returned to competitive cricket for the first time in nearly four months, playing a match in the DY Patil Cup in Navi Mumbai. Pandya has been working his way back to full fitness after he suffered an ankle injury during India’s match against Bangladesh at the 2023 World Cup in October last year.

Pandya batted at No. 10 and saw off a tense chase along with Piyush Chawla.(DY Patil Sports Academy)

The injury ruled him out for the rest of the tournament and he then had to sit out the subsequent series against Australia at home, South Africa away from home and then Afghanistan in India. It meant that, if he doesn’t get injured, Pandya would have to play the T20 World Cup later this year without having played T20Is for India since the 2023 World Cup. He is, however, expected to play the Indian Premier League (IPL) as five-time champions Mumbai Indians’ newly appointed captain.

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How Pandya fared on return

Pandya on Monday played for Reliance 1 in the DY Patil T20 Cup in Navi Mumbai. He opened the bowling and picked up 2 for 22 from his three overs. He then batted at No. 10 and saw off a tense chase along with Piyush Chawla. Pandya was unbeaten on 3 off four balls as Reliance 1 beat Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited by two wickets. Among his wickets was India T20 international Rahul Tripathi.

For the past month, Pandya has been training in Baroda while following a return-to-fitness roadmap drawn up for him by the National Cricket Academy (NCA). The all-rounder also featured in practice matches at NCA along with Rishabh Pant, who is also returning to fitness after suffering serious injuries in a car accident in December, 2022.

Pandya’s return to competitive cricket has been much awaited as had led India’s T20 side for most of last year and would have been a contender to captain in the upcoming World Cup but for injury. BCCI secretary Jay Shah has announced Rohit Sharma as skipper and Pandya as his deputy for the marquee event.


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