Legendary Indian fast bowler Zaheer Khan wants the swashbuckling all-rounder Hardik Pandya to stay calm and not rush to make a comeback to competitive cricket as he undergoes tiresome rehabilitation program following a back injury in September.
India’s top-grade all-rounder is desperate to make a comeback in the Indian Premier League (IPL) that is set to get underway from March 29. He will also be eying the three-match ODI series against the Proteas that is scheduled right before the IPL.
Fast bowlers are injury prone and it can be tough for them to endure lengthy rehabilitation programs. A well-respected voice in world cricket and a very skilful former India's bowling spearhead, Zaheer Khan, had a word with Hardik where he told him to avoid a hasty comeback and shared his own experiences of recovering from nagging injuries.
“I have [spoken to him]. I will say this to anyone who is a sportsman and is going through an injury phase. It’s frustrating at times when you’re away from the game, but it’s very important to stay patient and control things. It’s about listening to your body,” Zaheer remarked.
“You have to be patient through that process and you have to listen to the team which is around you - the support staff, be it your doctor, your physio, your trainers. Those are the key people one should communicate with and control the controllables.
Hardik isn’t part of the Test series squad for the forthcoming New Zealand series and he is instead going to London for a follow-up with his surgeon. Apart from him, T20I captain Rohit Sharma is out of action due to a calf injury that he picked up during the fifth T20I against the Kiwis.
Also, the seasoned fast bowler Ishant Sharma is battling through his own injury woes and is recovering from an ankle injury but that does not alarm Zaheer who has faith in the backup resources and players waiting on the fringes to grab opportunities.
Despite the injury concerns and the unavailability of top-flight cricketers, Zaheer is glad that India possesses a strong bench which can deliver the goods.
“What was the result in the previous series? It’s not about that; it’s about putting up a team there together. That’s the strength right now this Indian team has. The strength of any squad is seen with their bench strength as well. We are in a position at the moment where the talent and pool of players we have is excellent,” Zaheer told reporters.
Zaheer is the director of cricket operations of Mumbai Indians and Hardik plays for the same franchise in the IPL.