The Pandya brothers, Hardik (left) and Krunal limber up during training at the ICC Academy ground. Image Credit: Mumbai Indians

Dubai: Mumbai Indians and India allrounder Hardik Pandya is staying focused as he prepares to make his long-awaited return to top flight cricket after almost a year on the sidelines.

The last time that 27-year-old allrounder played in a match was against Pakistan in the 2018 Asia Cup, but ended up being stretchered out of the field with a back injury. Pandya underwent surgery last year but did not recover in time for the New Zealand tour in early 2020.

This month’s 13th IPL in the UAE is a sort of comeback for Pandya who has an impressive Twenty20 record, having taken 36 wickets in 39 matches and scored close to 300 runs.


However, with the ongoing Coronavirus scare in the IPL, this appears to be a testing assignment for the flamboyant character.

“More excited than nervous, because [for] a good 10 months I have been training and looking forward to play, so the portion where the nervousness comes or the pressure comes has gone away,” Pandya told ANI.

‘‘I am just more excited to be on the field and implement what I have worked on with regards to my training part, the practice sessions.”.

Pandya says he has worked diligently on regaining his fitness and hopes that things ‘‘will turn out pretty well”.

“To be honest, I look after my back now as well,” he said. “Throughout the Covid period and even before that, I was focusing to ensure that if without surgery I was at a level with my fitness, I had to be one level up.”

Although there are undeniably some concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak in the Super Kings camp, Pandya said that he is just focusing on following the protocols and his training.

“For me it is just simple,” he said. “Follow what the health officials say and follow what the team management says.

“I let the professionals do their work and if they say that we should look after certain things, I think we should just follow that and be on track… So, we are only focusing on cricket right now because MI is taking care of the rest.”

He also believes that the absence of spectators will not prove to a big factor. “It will be a different experience but we have all played Ranji Trophy without fans and T20 cricket without fans.

“Obviously, the fans add to the cheering part and the support but for us when we are playing, we don’t see much difference.”