Hardik Pandya: I am hitting the ball very well

Hardik Pandya has been a valuable part of the Mumbai Indians setup. Ever since he made his debut for the franchise in 2015, his flexibility as a hard-hitting batsman, wicket-taking pacer and electrifying fielder is quite extraordinary.

As India played South Africa in the final T20I at the Chinnaswamy Stadium last year, Pandya complained of back pain. The injury had been haunting him since the Asia Cup 2018 and the BCCI medical team recommended surgery as a long-term solution.

As Mumbai Indians take on Chennai Super Kings in the league opener on Saturday, all eyes will be on the all-rounder as he marks his return to mainstream cricket after a long spell away from the game.

In a chat with MITV, Hardik revealed his journey throughout the injury and post-surgery, how pivotal is fitness for any sportsman and his overall feeling on making a comeback.

I think great things are coming ahead

It's been almost a year since Hardik last featured in an international game. A back surgery followed by the pandemic meant an extended break for the hard-hitting all-rounder. However, he has been training well during this period.

"No matter how far I go from the game, no matter how long I stay out. When I come back it has to be worth it. I’ve prepared pretty well and I think great things are coming ahead."

Injuries have always kept me going

Injuries have always taught sportsmen how to face challenges. Hardik has accepted it as a part and parcel of his life and shared how it kept him motivated to put up more phenomenal performances.

"In my life, I realized one thing that injuries would be with me. No one wants to get injured but I need to accept the fact that what I do, injuries will be a part of it. Injuries have always kept me going, always kept me motivated, actually taught me how much hard work needs to be put in and it has always increased and never decreased."

If you become much fitter, you can increase your skill levels

Many cricketers' training routine got affected due to the lockdown. However, the Pandya brothers had access to a gym in their house which helped them stay lean and fit. The cricketer stressed the importance of fitness and how it can improve your skills on the field.

"Luckily I and Krunal had the privilege to have a gym in our house, so because of that portion, we were able to work on our fitness, which I have always believed that if you become much fitter than what you were previously then I think you can increase your skill levels. You can adapt to a lot of things which you have never seen before and I always feel that once you go one step ahead in your fitness, there are many more magical moments in your life waiting.”

DY Patil tournament gave me immense confidence

The 26-year old made his much awaited return to competitive cricket during the DY Patil T20 cup. Pandya was at his splendid best in the tournament as he scored 347 runs and took 14 wickets in just five games.

"Luckily, I got one tournament which was DY Patil, which I played for Reliance and as a player it gave me immense confidence to implement the hard work which I’d done over a period of time and it just felt good."

I think things will work out pretty well

Despite being away from cricket for long, Pandya was quite confident about getting back in action. Other than bowling in the nets, he even managed to hit his stride during the practice sessions with the team at Abu Dhabi.

"The way I am hitting the ball right now, the shape I am in, the mental space I am in. It's just a matter of time that I go and spend some time on the ground and I think things will work out pretty well."

I would like to make a very strong comeback

Pandya's contribution in both the departments has been immense for Mumbai Indians. Over the last couple of seasons, the all-rounder has scored above 650 runs and taken 30 plus wickets.

"IPL is something which I have always enjoyed a lot and I would like to make a comeback very strong and just looking forward to it."