Mumbai Indians (MI) bowling coach Shane Bond has opened up about Hardik Pandya’s fitness and why the all-rounder has not played in the first two games of MI so far in the second leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL 2021) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Bond said Pandya is training well and is getting closer to playing, but the Mumbai Indians (MI) won’t rush him back into the action keeping in mind the needs of the Indian team, as the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup 2021 is just scheduled just two days after the end of the ongoing IPL 2021.
However, the bowling coach hinted that the all-rounder could play MI’s next IPL 2021 game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Sunday, September 26 in Dubai.
Bond said at the post-match press conference: “Look, Hardik is training well. He is getting closer to playing. We are obviously balancing the needs of our team with the needs of Team India as well.”
The bowling coach further added, “The one thing that this franchise does very well is looking after its players with an eye on not only to try and win this competition but also on the T20 World Cup that’s following on. We are hopeful that Hardik will be back for the next match. As I said, he has trained today and trained pretty well by all counts.”
Backing MI’s decision to not play Hardik in the first two matches in the IPL 14, the New Zealander said: “We are obviously desperate to put him back out on the field. But like anything you have to balance everything up, you have to also consider what the player wants. There’s also no point rushing him back to get injured to miss the rest of the tournament when we may have a chance to win it.”
He further added, “I think we are doing the right thing and hopeful (that) we will get him back shortly and he’ll have an impact on the back-end of the tournament and get us into the playoffs and hopefully win the tournament from there.”
On Thursday, MI suffered a 7-wicket defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) despite scoring 155 runs, but Bond feels the defending champions were well short of the par score. It was MI’s second defeat in a row in the second leg of the IPL 2021 in the UAE.
The 46-year-old said, “I think it was a 175-180 kind of wicket and we were well short of the score. And KKR bowled beautifully, bowled disciplined and then came out and really put us under pressure with the bat and dominated the game and they really deserved to win.”
However, the MI bowling coach admitted that the team was completely outplayed by KKR on Thursday. Bond said, “Today, they played well. You have to give them credit. They were positive, put us under pressure. We bowled some balls that by our standards weren’t good enough.”
He signed off by saying, “You can say that they put pressure on us and we weren’t good enough to respond. Look, we have won four of the last six tournaments on the back of some brilliant bowling performances. We will improve; I am sure, over the next coming outings. I am not concerned about that. We were just outplayed today but expect a lot better from us in our next game.”