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Hardik Pandya wants everyone to know his priority is cricket: Zaheer Khan

Former India pacer Zaheer Khan said Hardik Pandya is on the right track after being out of the team for Australia limited-overs series for disciplinary reasons.

Khan, India’s second highest Test wicket-taker among pacers with 311 sticks from 92 Tests, said: “Sometimes the distraction actually helps you get back on track. So, Hardik is pretty much on track. For any cricketer, the best way to go about his business is by going out there on that field and let his numbers talk. Hardik is in that frame of mind. He wants opportunities, he wants to go out there, express himself and let everyone know that his priority is cricket.

With Hardik, that has always been the case.

“He is very serious and passionate about the game. In terms of monitoring his workload, he has been very good with that. For a fast bowler, for the kind of injury he had in Asia Cup, it is not easy. He has to be monitored. There is no doubt about it. He is in consultation with the team of support staff that he has been working with. So, everything is under control so far. He has done a couple of bowling sessions. And he has got to progress in that fashion.”

Returning to action after serving the disciplinary period, Pandya played in New Zealand but missed the five-match ODI series at home against Australia due to lower back stiffness. He is working his way back to recovery. The Baroda all-rounder sustained the injury last year during the Asia Cup and was out of action until late last year when he was included on the tour of Australia.

One of India’s premier pacers who had his share of injuries in his career, Khan, MI’s director of operations, cricket, said that Pandya’s physical condition will be constantly monitored.

“We have the great Shane Bond (bowling coach from New Zealand) with us and you know the history of what he has been going through in his playing days. He is the right guy he (Pandya) should be talking to because he is someone who has been through that, had that issue with his back that eventually had an effect on his career.

“When I saw him in Asia Cup, I was actually concerned to see that sight on the field. When I spoke with him, he said it was not something he has faced for the first time. He had a similar kind of issue with the back three-four years ago as well. It is related to what he feels through the crease when he is getting off, which has an impact. In the shorter run, it is not going to have any consequences because he is pretty aware of where things stand. In the longer run, he knows what are the thing needed to get rid of those issues permanently.”



Written by Suresh Das

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