Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya Image Credit: AP

New Delhi: Of late, there has been a lot of chatter around Hardik Pandya’s availability for IPL 2024, with many reports claiming that he will not be available for the tournament.

But if sources are to be believed, then Pandya has been walking around and is very much on the recovery route, while saying the talk of IPL availability is a bit far-fetched at the moment.

Pandya has been out of competitive cricketing action since sustaining a left ankle injury during India’s league match in 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup game against Bangladesh in Pune on October 19. Shortly after, he was ruled out of the campaign and has been on the recovery plus rehab route.

More recently, he was traded to Mumbai Indians from Gujarat Titans and became the side’s skipper, replacing five-time championship winning captain Rohit Sharma in the top job ahead of IPL 2024. “Hardik has been walking around, and is currently in recovery phase to be match-fit. His gym-work is on and the left ankle is not in a cast,” said a source tracking the development to IANS.

Awaiting the report from the NCA

Pandya’s posts on Instagram for this month have shown him walking around freely and without the ankle kept in a cast, which the source also pointed out that the road to achieving match fitness is ongoing. “Talk of his IPL availability is far-fetched at the moment as the tournament is more than two and a half months away.”

“Plus, many are awaiting the report from the NCA, which will tell about his progress, and more importantly, about his availability for not just IPL 2024, but also for India’s T20Is against Afghanistan happening next month. The NCA report and related clearances will determine Hardik’s future availability,” added the source.

All eyes will now be on India’s T20I squad for the series against Afghanistan, as apart from Hardik, Suryakumar Yadav and Ruturaj Gaikwad will be undergoing rehabilitation at the NCA for their ankle and ring finger injuries respectively, while Ishan Kishan opted out of Tests against South Africa due to personal reasons.

It will be the first time India will be facing Afghanistan in a bilateral men’s T20I series, with the matches happening on January 11, 14 and 17 in Mohali, Indore and Bengaluru respectively. This will be India’s last international series before the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup takes place in the West Indies and the USA from June 4-30.